View Full Version : Would like to know about the Tenderloin and Pacific Heights in San Francisco

05-13-2013, 06:49 PM
Hi, all! :)

I'm writing an urban fantasy (YA) set in San Francisco (and why I decided to set the story in a city I have never been to, I have no idea), and I've pretty much decided to set the action in Tenderloin and Pacific Heights. A bunch of the kids are pretty rich, and some of the kids are struggling to get by, so I figured that those were the two places that seemed to make sense. (Unless someone has better place suggestions, which I would gladly take!)

Right now I've got a few burning questions like:
a) would it be possible for the Pacific Heights kids and the Tenderloin kids to go to the same high school?

b) If you had a fight on your rooftop in Pacific Heights at maybe four or five in the afternoon, would anyone notice? Or is the place pretty much deserted during work hours?

c) are there arcades in the Tenderloin? With like pinball machines and whatnot? Basketball machines?

d) what kind of place would high school kids in the Tenderloin go to have a fight? Like a gang fight/grudge fight? (I know it seems like there's a lot of fighting, but it's not what it sounds like...I think)

Thanks in advance!!

05-13-2013, 09:24 PM
No, they wouldn't attend the same high schools - at least not public schools. The areas are not really contiguous. You COULD send them to Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep - if they're Catholic.


For an overview of each neighborhood - this is a good read.


I live just south of the city, on the Pacific Coast.

05-14-2013, 03:11 AM
I live in SF and am going to have to say a big fat NO to all of these. I can kind of guess what you're trying to go for and would suggest that you just set this in an imaginary city instead, your questions show me that you are waaaay off on what you think SF would be like. I wish you could come here so you can see for yourself what i mean.

05-14-2013, 04:13 AM
I live in SF and am going to have to say a big fat NO to all of these. I can kind of guess what you're trying to go for and would suggest that you just set this in an imaginary city instead, your questions show me that you are waaaay off on what you think SF would be like. I wish you could come here so you can see for yourself what i mean.

East Bay resident here, but basically this. The tenderloin is... yeah. Here's an article from a social worker there:


And then a kind of rebuttal that's somewhat more positive:


I am not super familiar with SF, but if you need to set the book here, I would recommend maybe using the Mission district for the area where kids have fights. Last time I was there some guys started duking it out on the street in front of me, but it's also an area of sort of mixed wealth and poverty. It's got some urban renewal going on so you can find some cool bookstores and restaurants mixed in with homeless people and rundown buildings. Again, as I said, I don't live in the city, so residents may wish to correct me on this one.

05-14-2013, 06:14 PM
I have read the Vice article (and subsequent others that agreed or disagreed with it--I believe it caused quite a stir at the time it was published).

Rereading my questions I realize that it probably sounds like I'm doing an UF West Side Story (which I'm not). It's just that I was looking for a setting where two groups from different backgrounds could meet and it seemed like school was the logical spot, and on the map it looks like the Tenderloin and Pacific Heights are right next to each other so...

Google Earth is great but there is only SO much info you can get from them!

Bing Z
05-14-2013, 07:08 PM
The Tenderloin kids... are they academically competent students? Can they get into magnet schools like Lowell or charter schools? Pacific Heights is an elegant neighborhood but not Billionaire Row so maybe some of their kids do go to good public schools? Do they have specialty/trade high schools in SF, like Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in NYC where kids from the projects take classes with kids of movie stars/conductors/musicians?

But if you go this route, you may need to do substantial research or even visit these places (yay!!!) rather than using white rooms. And prolly less fights ^_^ and more sex?

05-14-2013, 07:39 PM
I don't think my Tenderloin kids are that great with school stuff. (They are pretty good at fighting, hence all the fighting :) )

Would love to visit the place, but I live halfway across the globe from San Francisco, so...probably not going to happen any time soon :(

05-25-2013, 08:56 PM
On advice from lolchemist (Thanks!!) have decided to move the setting to Haight-Ashbury. Just wondering if it's the kind of place you'd see shops selling stuff like scented candles/oils/occult stuff?

Also, are internet cafes popular among kids in SF? Or is it considered a bad place to hang out?

Is it easy to get cabs off the street in SF/Haight-Ashbury? Or do most people prefer buses anyway?

Also, can anyone give me some info on SF weather? I've checked on Goggle and some sources say that it usually only rains Feb-Apr, although other sources say that it rains about half the year. I've heard that there is a lot of mist/fog in SF as well. Does it rain mostly in the mornings and then stop in the evenings, or is it more like a steady drizzle?

Also, is it true that sunset in SF can sometimes come as late as 8 pm in the summer? (I live in a subtropical country so even in summer we get sunset at 6 pm at the latest, so this is mind-blowing to me)

Siri Kirpal
05-25-2013, 09:50 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

We visited San Francisco one summer. Very foggy, especially in the mornings. We weren't prepared for how chilly it was.

Haight-Ashbury was hippy central in the 1960s and 1970s. Not sure if the occult shops are still there, but they certainly were back in the day.

Yes, the sun goes down later in summers than in winters.

I don't spend much time in the Bay Area, so others will have to fill in the specifics.


Siri Kirpal

05-25-2013, 10:39 PM
I visit the Haight probably once a month or so. You can google the street view, to actually SEE what it looks like.

Because it was the 'birthplace' of the Hippie movement, the Summer of 62 and everything - it has become a tourist destination. There are LOTS of tourists walking around, especially on weekends.

There are street musicians, and young kids (teens) living on the streets... asking for handouts.

There is a Ben and Jerry's ice cream store, at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury. You see people standing under the street sign - getting their photos taken. Typical "I'm here" Tourist photos.

It doesn't 'wake up' - get busy - until after about ten in the morning. You're talking about HAIGHT streeet - which is the commercial, most often visited section of the Haight-Ashbury district.

There are LOTS of 'resale' shops. So basically, if you're looking for old clothes, that are being resold as trendy - this is the place. Lots of shops with candles, incense, etc. Some 'middle eastern' clothing shops as well. A couple of bookstores, including the "Anarchists Collective" - which always makes me laugh. Cause you know, they have regularly scheduled meetings. I wonder if anyone attends?

There are T-Shirt shops, Tattoo parlors, restaurants, and upscale clothing boutiques, as well as hair salons, super markets and music stores.

On weekends, and during tourists 'season' - the traffic on Haight is very heavy. Slow moving. Yes, you can catch a cab, but most will use buses. Tourist season in San Francisco - is spilt by summer. The nicest weather is April/May and then Sep/Oct. Summer is very very foggy. Fog tends to be heaviest in the morning, burning off later in the day - but it doesn't ALWAYS burn off.

You can google San Francisco weather at any time, and get a look at what's happening. I live down the coast, on the pacific ocean, about half an hour south of SF. Right now, temps are running a little cooler than normal.

The Pacific is very cold, compared to the Atlantic and the Gulf areas. Especially up here in NorCal. While the temp across the bay, in Berkeley, Alameda, Oakland might reach 80 degrees during the summer - it can be twenty degrees cooler in the city and on the coast. Weather forecasts show THREE temperatures. COASTAL, PENNINSULA and "INLAND" - Across the bay in the valley.

MicroClimate is really the key for understanding the Bay Area weather. It's not uncommon to be in the eighties in San Mateo, or Redwood City - drive over the coastal range to the ocean - or into the City proper, and see the temperature drop more than twenty degrees. THIS is why there is so much fog in the summer. Not a lot of rain - in direct precipitation - but yes, it can be quite 'damp' in the fog. You'll need your wipers while driving.

SUnset today is 8:22 pm. It will get later until June 21 of course.

05-26-2013, 11:40 AM
Is there fog at night as well?

What is Haight-Ashbury like at night/after dark? Is it mostly deserted or are people out partying until all hours? Would you say it was dangerous to be out alone one the streets after dark? (I understand that a lot of the runaway teens on the streets of Haight-Ashbury are on drugs?)

05-26-2013, 04:38 PM
Yes, there can often be fog at night, again - likely in the summer. Haight is hopping at night... at least till ten. Many of the restaurants are open late.

"On drugs" ... mostly just stoned. Or drunk. There is a large population of homeless in San Francisco - so there will often be the person - young or old - sort of wandering and talking. Might be on the phone in their ear.... might be to an invisible deity. Some crime is inevitable. I'm six feet four, and kind of intimidating - so what I consider a 'safe' or 'dangerous' area - is not likely going to be the same as a young person or woman.

Off Haight street, and you're into neighborhood. Just houses and a few multi-family dwellings. The neighborhood is bounded by parks. On the west is the edge of Golden Gate Park - San Francisco's 'central park' - Very large, lots of facilities. On the north, is 'the panhandle' of SF park - just a strip of land between Oak and Fell Streets. During the day, folks walk their dogs, hang out, toss the frisbee. On the east, is Buena Vista Park - likely find people crashing there in the night.

Honestly, you should google the street view to see the area.

05-26-2013, 07:27 PM
Or drunk. There is a large population of homeless in San Francisco - so there will often be the person - young or old - sort of wandering and talking. Might be on the phone in their ear.... might be to an invisible deity.

If this was a Thursday night a couple weeks ago, that might've just been me.

05-27-2013, 02:46 PM
*Goes to Google street view*

06-03-2013, 08:56 AM
Is there an area or a street in Haight-Ashbury that is basically clb central or party central?

06-03-2013, 07:09 PM
Haight street is where it's mostly happening. It's just the main drag - the principal thoroughfare. Most of the restaurants, stores and shops are located on Haight . Keep in mind, there's a section called "Lower Haight" - which is also a happening spot - but it's located a bit farther down Haigh, away from the "Haight Ashbury" district.