For those who grew up playing San Francisco geography by asking “What neighborhood are you from?” there’s a brand new, San Francisco neighborhood to learn.
San Francisco is a small city — only 49 square miles. What this means is that, when native San Franciscans meet, they always ask at least one question of two questions (and sometimes both). The first question, in a true San Francisco accent, is “Where’d’ja go to school?” The second question is “What neighborhood did’ja grow up in?” Both questions quickly establish anything one needs to know about a San Francisco native. (I know that other city natives do the same but, because San Francisco is geographically so small, natives are more likely to know each neighborhood and its stereotype.)
For example, if a person where to say “I went to the Madams and grew up in Sea Cliff,” you would know that they were very wealthy and Catholic. The Madams meant Convent of the Sacred Heart High School and Sea Cliff is one of San Francisco’s wealthiest neighborhoods. Not all students at the Madams, though, were Catholic. Dianne Feinstein went there despite being nominally Jewish.
If a girl were to say, “I went to Mercy” or a boy were to say “I went to Riordan,” you’d know they were middle-class Catholic. You could tell how high or low they were in the middle class range depending on the neighborhood in which they grew up. St. Francis Woods meant upper middle class, while ones class if one lived in the Sunset or the Richmond depending on how close they were to the ocean. The closer they were, the less classy, because these houses had no view and the salt air damaged everything. Even though the racial mix has changed (the Sunset and the Richmond are extremely Asian now), the economic and class story they tell remains unchanged. [Read more…]