The walk from my home on top of San Francisco’s Nob Hill down to my studio at its bottom is a lesson in class and status in America. As each few blocks take me down another rung on the socioeconomic ladder, I move from the clean, well-tended streets at the summit through increasingly littered, ill-kept neighborhoods where property values decrease as the numbers of potholes and homeless people increase. At the bottom of the hill sits the notorious “Tenderloin,” a district that houses what the Victorians called “the lower orders,” where the desperate and the dangerous hang on every street corner waiting for the local food kitchen to open its doors.
Three blocks later, I’m downtown looking at the visible signs of gentrification—an upscale shopping mall featuring the recently opened Bloomingdale’s West Coast flagship store and an Intercontinental Hotel under construction next door. From there I pass into the more industrial parts of the city, where my studio sits ...
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