A piece published in the Young Woman’s Journal just ahead of the 1915 world’s fair sure does paint a fine portrait of The City. Clearly aimed at selling the influx of tourists for the fair on the merits of San Francisco—and to warn them about our delightfully cruel summers—the old school advertorial takes us on the ferry across the “glistening bay,” through the bustle down, and around the Chinatown, Portola, Fillmore, and “Valley” neighborhoods. But the part that stood out to us covered our neighborhood du jour, The Mission.
“Pepper trees droop tenderly over the walks and date palms sigh in the wind,” the essay boasts. “Why not live in the ‘Mission?’ Those who do swear it is the only place.”
How little has changed. Neighborhood pride rightfully runs high here, and leaving the Mission for any reason causes a borderline panic attack.
But here’s the flip:
And now I shall tell you a secret. Many years ago the “Mission” was inhabited by the rich and society folk. Now they have moved to San Mateo, to Burlinggame and to Knob Hill. In their decaying mansions and near by them live a great mass of the working class, “poor people” as the Charities call them. By these poor people enjoy life. They work during the day, whistling and singing. In the evening they wash their faces, slick down their hair, and tighten their collars in preparation for their recreation.
Singing and dancing, theaters upon theaters, chorus girls’ contests, and some of the cheapest goods in the city. These poor people enjoy life.
Beyond the Mission, the piece concludes perfectly:
Ah. yes, San Francisco, you are wonderful. Your chilly climate, your wind, your fog and your dirt but prove that you have not yet acquired immortality. Your sea, your hills, your sky and your flowers touch upon the divine. Dazzling San Francisco, you are a rare, resplendent gem. You are the city of enchantment—the city that beckons the world.
Below, the sections dealing with the Mission (but you can nerd out and read the entire essay on Google Books):
[via Matt Graves]