Introducing Urban History: How San Francisco Erased a Neighborhood

In college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I took a fascinating course in Urban History, taught by the incomparable Roger Lotchin, who is still teaching and publishing books well into his eighties.  Urban history generally incorporates a multi-disciplinary approach, including social history, architectural history, urban sociology, urban geography, business history, and archaeology. Some urban historians argue that living in urban or rural settings shapes your world view far more than what country you live in. Urban people no matter the country or region tend to be cosmopolitan, accepting of constant change and diversity. Rural people adhere more to traditional values, tend to be more suspicious of change, of new ideas and people from diverse backgrounds. How urban, suburban and rural people view each other. Differences in urban/rural happiness.

I was reminded of this when this fascinating video popped up on, about how San Francisco destroyed a Filipino neighborhood in the 1970s to make way for urban businesses and gentrification.  San Francisco now has some of the most unaffordable rents in the nation, with people making $60,000 a year unable to afford housing. posted this 15-minute video, along with details and links to drill deeper. One might argue that the story is more complex than portrayed here, in that urban blight and falling-down buildings were not in the residents’ long-term interests, and those who survived did eventually obtain affordable housing in the city.

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