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Urban Development Taken for Granted

By Melissa Wreyford

Having lived in the Boston suburbs, gone to college at Wentworth Institute of Technology, and now living in the heart of Boston, I tend to forget how much the city has progressed over the last few decades.  The redevelopment effort in surrounding neighborhoods such as Mission Hill, the South End, South Boston, and the Waterfront (just to name a few) have placed forgotten communities back on the Boston map and added a vibrancy that helps make Boston the city it is today.  Focus has been placed on providing the residents of Boston with clean, green spaces, areas to enjoy shopping and local cuisine, and, slowly but surely, the introduction of renovated or entirely new housing.  These redevelopment efforts have increased foot traffic which, in turn, creates more desirable and safer neighborhoods.  Boston

Recently, I traveled to San Francisco on a personal trip.  This was my first trip to San Francisco, first time in the State of California, and first time on the West Coast.  Honestly, I was unsure what to expect from this trip.  I have traveled to New York City countless times and have had the opportunity to explore some of Europe’s major cities, so without putting any real thought behind it, I believe what I expected was a city structure similar to the cities I was already familiar with.  

Though not disappointed, I was surprised to experience the different aspects that the City of San Francisco offered.  My first sense was that the city appeared disjointed with the neighborhoods seemingly segregated from one another.  More space may have attributed to this impression and, since I was unfamiliar with San Francisco’s transit system, getting around without a car seemed a daunting task.

In Boston and New York City, our commercial areas, restaurants, and apartments have developed and become an urban, blended, and symbiotic species.  San Francisco is different from this.  What I had not anticipated was how residentially and commercially segregated it is.  Residential neighborhoods seemed almost entirely residential and commercial areas, again, seemed mainly commercial.  An area that this was most apparent was around the newly renovated Ferry Terminal Building is a beautiful location to enjoy some food and a stroll by the water but becomes empty by 7:00 or 8:00PM and I had a difficult time locating buildings that could possibly be residential.  

However, like Boston, each neighborhood in San Francisco had gems that set them apart from the others.  Golden Gate Park where people can experience the architecturally playful De Young Museum, Fisherman’s Wharf with Pier 49 where people can watch sea lions come and go, Presido where people can enjoy picnics in the park and a stroll to the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Mission Dolores where visitors and San Francisco residents can enjoy some great Mexican food, definitely some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. 

This trip opened my eyes to how valuable the city layout of Boston Proper is.  The integration of commercial and residential is an aspect of city planning and development that I have definitely taken for granted.  That being said, redevelopment efforts in San Francisco have yielded beautiful spaces that have helped to increase pedestrian traffic to various locations throughout the city, especially along the waterfront.  The revitalization of historic sites rich in history and memory, such as the Ferry Terminal building located near the Bay Bridge,  , revive the surrounding areas and re-establish these City landmarks to be enjoyed by both locals and tourists.