We’re headed to San Francisco to spend Thanksgiving with my dad. He moved to San Francisco when I was fifteen, landing in the Mission District, in an apartment overlooking Mission Dolores Park. I would say, ‘the neighborhood has really changed’ but it’d still be too extravagant of an understatement.
The park, physically, has since added a huge play structure and an ultra modern public restroom but it’s the demographic changes that are most apparent. When I used to stay with my dad in high school, the park was mostly unoccupied space except a few homeless people sleeping under blankets and one or two Mexican teens selling marijuana by the bridge.
Now, on a sunny day, every foot of the park is packed by mostly 20 and 30 somethings, splayed out on picnic blankets, drinking craft beer and scrolling on iPhones. There are still people selling marijuana but it’s legal here now, and the sellers are typically white people hawking Gluten Free and vegan edibles. Huge swaths of the park are off-leash areas although by mid-day on the weekend there’s far too much food on ground level to reasonably let a dog free.
Looking back, further into the history of the park, it was inhabited, in turns, by the Ohlone Indians, Spanish Missionaries, and a Jewish Cemetery before its present incarnation as a public park. It’s incredible to consider how supremely diverse this small physical space would be if you could collapse the single dimension of time.