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Archive for September, 2009

No, I’m not talking about the three-day music festival in Golden Gate P

ark that wrapped up this weekend but San Francisco’s Richmond District, which was at one time known simply as part of “The Outside Lands.”

And while the name may seem well, outlandish, consider this: the areas that are now the Richmond and Sunset Districts at one time consisted mainly of sand dunes and were owned by the government of Mexico.

“In the 1800’s, what is now the Richmond District was part of ‘The Outside Lands,’ which were not part of the City of San Francisco, and in those days, no one believed that the Outside Lands would ever be part of the city,” explains Lorri Ungaretti in her book San Francisco’s Richmond District.

A lot has changed since then. It is difficult to imagine San Francisco today without the rich and diverse community that is the Richmond.

With borders stretching from Arguello on the Eastern side, to the Pacific Ocean on the Western side, and from Seacliff and the Presidio to the No

rth all the way to Golden Gate Park in the South, the Richmond District is one of San Francisco’s most expansive and diverse neighborhoods.

The community itself is mainly divided into two sections, Outer Richmond, and Inner Richmond.

Outer Richmond is largely residential with a handful of schools, playgrounds, restaurants, liquor stores and ethnic markets scattered throughout. All in all it looks very similar to Outer Sunset except for the views. With the Pacific Ocean to the West, the Golden Gate Bridge to the North, and Golden Gate Park to the South, much of San Francisco can be seen from the Outer Richmond on a clear day.

Outer Richmond is also home to theRichmond District Neighborhood Center, a community center that includes on site daycare facilities,

a Community Music Center and Multicultural Children’s Art Programs.

Nestled between houses at its cozy location on 30th Ave., the RDNC, which has been around for more than 30 years, is dedicated to providing low-cost and subsidized services to the Richmond community. A community that, despite appearances, “is very much in need,” said RDNC Director of Operations Dorian Luey.

And while Outer Richmond is mostly quiet and residential, some places in the Inner Richmond don’t even seem like they are part of the same sleepy neighborhood you passed 15 minutes ago. As you go deeper and deeper into the Richmond, it gets steadily noisier, more crowded and more ethnic.

Storefronts solely in English are the minority in this part of Richmond and English is in the minority of languages heard. Several different Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese language newspapers sit in news racks in front of stores prominently displayed next to the San Francisco Chronicle.

International markets that sell cheese, candy, coffee and tea from all over the world dot the crowded sidewalks and cuisine from all over Asia and Europe can be easily found.

And on Clement St., between Arguello and Park Presidio, is the area that has become known as the “New Chinatown.” This part of town is dominated by bright lights, primary colors, and innumerable restaurants and markets representing countries from all over Asia.

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