Razing the Bar: Tracing the Evolution of LGBTQ Enclaves in San Francisco – Speakers: Shayne Watson and Cade Hobbick
San Francisco’s Castro District is known throughout the world as a center of LGBTQ culture and community. Often erroneously described as the city’s first LGBTQ enclave, the Castro was the last in a long string of neighborhoods that welcomed and helped form San Francisco’s LGBTQ communities. This presentation will trace the development and demise of the city’s LGBTQ enclaves from the post-Prohibition period through the 1980s. Case studies will include North Beach and the Tenderloin, historically heteronormative entertainment districts of bars and nightclubs that allowed nascent queer communities to develop under the radar beginning in the 1930s; Polk Gulch, a traditional commercial corridor dating to the 19th century that transformed into a thriving LGBTQ district of gay-owned businesses in the 1960s; and Mission-Valencia, one of the country’s most vibrant residential and commercial lesbian districts in the country in the 1970s and 80s. Today, these once-flourishing LGBTQ enclaves show almost no trace of their former queer identities, but their histories provide important lessons for planners interested in community and neighborhood planning anywhere today. We will show how and why LGBTQ enclaves appeared and disappeared in certain areas of San Francisco, as well as how the composition (land uses, resident population, and commercial establishments) of these districts changed as LGBTQ communities emerged from the shadows and gained political power and social acceptance.