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Deco Ghetto

If San Francisco neighborhoods can be thought of as people, places like the Mission, the Castro, the Haight, Russian Hill, etc., are pretty much adults. They have identities. They have relatively well-defined boundaries. They have names.

The area of Market Street from Franklin to Guerrero, and then south down Valencia to 14th, on the other hand, is something of a teenager with an identity crisis, caught in the middle of several established neighborhoods. At times it's informally been called the Deco Ghetto, the Hub and just Mid-Market, but nothing has quite put it on the map. Yet this area has lots of local flavor, and it's growing up before our eyes. With a surprising number of cafés, shops and bars and a brand-new freeway off-ramp and a widened boulevard on the way, this San Francisco neighborhood is coming into its own, cutting the apron strings of the surrounding hoods.

So, why the name Deco Ghetto? Because for some reason, there's a bunch of Art Deco furniture stores clustered here. It all started about a generation ago with a few antique stores (Beaver Brothers was one of the first) seeking reasonable rents and high visibility. And then, as best as anyone seems to know, antiques attracted Deco, and Deco attracted more Deco. The store owners wanted to give a name to the random phenomenon, and a name to the neighborhood that might make people want to come shopping.

"The Hub" goes back a few years, when some locals started a movement to have the area christened for the old Muni turnaround near the Valencia/Market intersection. Many in the area still know of the name, but it never really caught on outside the neighborhood, especially when the Muni line was extended up to the Castro.

Regardless of what it's called, the area is going to be getting a lot more attention with the completion of the Octavia Boulevard project, which has freeway traffic spilling onto Market Street and the newly-widened, tree-lined boulevard. The area will be further enhanced by affordable housing, parks and retail space. Shop owners are looking forward to more traffic, mostly of the walking variety, in the area.

Rarely do we get the chance to witness the coming of age of a neighborhood, but this stretch of Market and the surrounding area is evolving rapidly. Once the construction cranes on Octavia are removed and the orange traffic cones are put away, maybe, finally, this young neighborhood will begin a life of its own.

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