Neighborhood & Community
The Larkin Street Corridor is located on the western edge the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, just north of City Hall and the Civic Center and south of Nob Hill. Much of the neighborhood consists of a dense urban development of residential buildings, apartments, nonprofit organizations, a few parks and many small businesses. Larkin Street itself is populated with dozens of small businesses including many restaurants and bars, retail and a variety of services. As such, the corridor is more so a business corridor and commerce related destination than other areas in the Tenderloin.
The Tenderloin neighborhood has a rich history that has been in transition for over a century. In the early twentieth century up to mid-century just to the south of the area, at Market Street, the area was once laden with theaters, departments stores and commerce related activities. The Tenderloin just to the north of Market Street housed hotels, and some of the country’s first apartments. Over several decades, many of the hotels and apartments converted into residential hotels, housing low-income families and individuals and a number of nonprofit social service organizations established within the neighborhood. Once again, the neighborhood is in transition, with an influx of new technology companies moving into the area. Many immigrant families, children and seniors live in the area, and now a new wave of young tech professionals are moving into the neighborhood.
Larkin Street and its adjoining blocks make up a unique ‘hyper-local’ pocket in the neighborhood that serve as a home and/or a place of business for many South East Asian families and individuals. After the fall of Vietnam’s Saigon in the mid-70s, many Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian immigrants migrated to the neighborhood for its affordable rents. A visit to the corridor makes it apparent that a good number of Vietnamese and Asian eateries are along and around the Larkin Street area. As such, a few blocks along Larkin Street have been officially designated and identified as San Francisco’s ‘Little Saigon’ neighborhood by the city’s Board of Supervisors in 2004. Included in its designation were the establishment of street banners that call out ‘Little Saigon’, and two 8-foot marble pylons depicting mythical lion creatures called ‘Ky Linh’ at Eddy and Larkin Street. These act as a gateway to this unique destination.