The Tenderloin is a neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, California, in the flatlands on the southern slope of Nob Hill, situated between the Union Square shopping district to the northeast and the Civic Center office district to the southwest. It encompasses about 50 square blocks and a conservative description has it bounded on the north by Geary Street, on the east by Mason Street, on the south by Market Street and on the west by Van Ness Avenue. The northern boundary with Lower Nob Hill historically has been set at Geary Street.
The terms Tenderloin Heights or The Tendernob refer to the area around the indefinite boundary between the Upper Tenderloin and Lower Nob Hill. The eastern extent, near Union Square, overlaps with the Theater District. Part of the western extent of the Tenderloin, Larkin and Hyde Streets between Turk and O'Farrell, was officially named "Little Saigon" by the City of San Francisco.
In recent years, residents have spearheaded a local arts revival.
In 1987, residents and others from the Aarti Hotel on Leavenworth Street founded the 509 Cultural Center at 509 Ellis Street. After the 1989 earthquake damaged that facility, artists founded The Luggage Store at 1007 Market, at the intersection of 6th Street, Market, Taylor and Golden Gate Avenue. In 1989 the Tenderloin Reflection and Education Center (TREC) spun off from St Anthony foundation and operated a cultural center including dance, music, writing quilting, and other arts workshops in the St. Boniface Neighborhood Center. Artists and activists such as Eric Ehn from the Iowa Writing Workshop and Theatre Artaud; Miya Masoaka, a recording artist with Asian Improv Records; Lucy Jane Bledsoe, published novelist and writer for the East Bay Express; Pearl Ubungen, choreographer; Ben Clarke, Founding Editor of Freedom Voices; and Maketa Groves, poet and published author at Curbstone Press; and Tenderloin resident and Athabaskan poet Mary TallMountain offered numerous free workshops. TREC and its publishing project Freedom Voices continue to offer workshops on an occasional basis at the Public Library, Hospitality House, the Faithful Fools and other locations in the neighborhood. Tender Leaves, the Center's literary journal was published from 1987-2006.
From 2006 to 2009, The Loin's Mouth, conceived by its editor Rachel M., was a semi-quarterly publication about life in the Tenderloin and Tendernob areas. Since then, others have come about to fill the gap including the Tenderloin Reading Series, which is a quarterly literary event in the neighborhood as well as The Tender, which is a local journal focusing on the events, food, and politics of the neighborhood.
In 2006, Gray Area Foundation for the Arts was formed to produce, exhibit, and develop creativity with the most contemporary new media technologies. Initially located on Taylor Street in an 8,000 sq ft (740 m2) space, they have since moved across the street to rent space from The Warfield.
Every year the local Vietnamese Community hosts the Tet celebration of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year in the Little Saigon section of the Tenderloin.