Tonight, Jan 25th saw the opening of this new exhibit of Mid-Market street photographs, “Forgotten Mid-Market”. The photos document some of the history of this section of Market street from the 30s through the 60s, showing bustling streets, huge signs, blinking lights, tons of transit.
It’s a sad thing to see how far it is fallen. In many pictures, it is hard to see that it IS the same street. Perhaps the one thing this exhibit was missing was modern day comparison photos from the same or similar vantage points. The only concrete similarity is the lampposts have remained the same, almost everything else — it seems — has changed.
The question is what are the lessons we can or should draw from this? How much was the construction of BART to blame, versus the 1967 “beautification” law, versus the decline in movie ticket sales, and the failure of theaters on “the Big White Way”?
Most painful of all is to see that Market used to have 4 lanes of transit! One could say of course that much of that moved underground, but how much quicker would the above ground MUNI buses be if that were still the case. Car traffic seems similar to the present, the only other change is that the sidewalks seem larger now. But if there are few people to walk there, what’s the point of that!
There is now pressure to turn over Mid-Market to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, photos pulled from private collections, and is showing through February 17, 2006.
Red Ink Studios is at 1035 Market Street (Wed-Sat 12-4, Thu 2-8).