“For a first world city, San Francisco is dirty. No, filthy. No, disgusting.”

Alex Payne — So You’re Moving to San Francisco

That’s the impression I always get. Even New York City, where instead of using garbage bins we pile bags of garbage on the sidewalk, feels cleaner than San Francisco. There are some gorgeous clean neighborhoods, but the Haight, the Mission, and especially the whole stretch of Market north of the Castro are filthy. So are most of the cafes and some of the restaurants. The Tenderloin is a disaster area.

I once stopped in a Tenderloin bar in the middle of the afternoon (I was excited to be a writer, I was walking straight from Market to North Beach, I was dumb) where an ancient man told me, “This place is dangerous. When you leave, you head straight north, you don’t look right, and don’t look left.” I felt like a hobbit on a quest being warned by the wise man in the forest’s lone safe inn.

Also, getting around San Francisco is impossible. [EDIT: Conversely, riding in a car, even a taxi, in Manhattan makes me carsick and always frustrates me. Thank god the trains run everywhere.]

But everyone knows these things. I agree with Alex on pretty much his whole post, and I’m very glad I moved to New York, but of course none of this reflects on the wonderful friends I have in that city.

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