San Francisco, Last One Out – Take The Horn Section

Blacks abandon San Francisco – No US city has seen a more rapid decline of its African-American population.

Fillmore Then - Billie Holiday singing at the Champagne Supper Club; Dexter Gordon hanging out at Bop City; Dizzie Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Chet Baker and John Coltrane all dropping in for jam sessions. A nostalgic snapshot of the New York or Chicago jazz scene? No: this was San Francisco's Fillmore District in its musical heyday.  The Fillmore in the 1940s and 1950s was a swinging, eclectic, and integrated neighbourhood, streets full of restaurants, pool halls, theatres, and stores - many minority-owned. It boasted two-dozen active nightclubs and music joints within its one square mile.  Although it has been commemorated in songs, poems, and in Maya Angelou's "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," few people today know of the rich musical history of the Fillmore. This is because it virtually vanished, abruptly and thoroughly, due to redevelopment in the 1960s.

Fillmore Then - Billie Holiday singing at the Champagne Supper Club; Dexter Gordon hanging out at Bop City; Dizzie Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Chet Baker and John Coltrane all dropping in for jam sessions. A nostalgic snapshot of the New York or Chicago jazz scene? No: this was San Francisco's Fillmore District in its musical heyday. The Fillmore in the 1940s and 1950s was a swinging, eclectic, and integrated neighbourhood, streets full of restaurants, pool halls, theatres, and stores - many minority-owned. It boasted two-dozen active nightclubs and music joints within its one square mile. Although it has been commemorated in songs, poems, and in Maya Angelou's "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings," few people today know of the rich musical history of the Fillmore. This is because it virtually vanished, abruptly and thoroughly, due to redevelopment in the 1960s.

The jewel by the sea may very well be looking like a colorless diamond than a rich emerald shortly, as black folks increasingly leave.

…the Western Addition, was once the heartbeat of San Francisco’s African-American community. Fillmore Street, known for its vibrant postwar jazz scene, is a few blocks away. KPOO, the first black-owned noncommercial radio station west of the Mississippi, is up the street. And the ministers say they hope that these new apartments – albeit not solely for black residents – begin to stem the rapid decline of the city’s African-American population.

Blacks have been leaving San Francisco in record numbers. Blacks accounted for 6.5 percent of the population in 2005, down from a high of 13.4 percent in 1970 – the steepest decline of any major US city, according to the US Census Bureau.

While San Francisco’s image has been defined by a history of tolerance and openness, some say today’s reality is much different. They paint a picture of a racially and economically divided city where blacks are vanishing from the social and cultural fabric, priced out and marginalized by the urban redevelopment policies of the past half century.

The decline in the black population has been so rapid that Mayor Gavin Newsom launched the African American Out-Migration Task Force and Advisory Committee in 2007 to reverse the trend. One key recommendation of the committee is for more affordable housing – much like the new development in the Western Addition…

Findings of the mayor’s task force confirm that black families with moderate and above-moderate incomes have been leaving since 1990. As a result, very-low-income households made up more than two-thirds of the black population in 2005 – up from roughly one-half in 1990.

The task force also said that the per capita income for African-Americans here is 56 percent less than that of whites. Blacks “lag behind the rest of the city in almost every key economic indicator and face significant barriers to addressing the disparities,” it said.

The absence of middle-class blacks in San Francisco leaves the impression that “we are not stakeholders in the community,” says Pastor Boyd.

Fillmore Now - Bi-continental shoe designer extraordinaire Paolo Iantorno manufactures his captivating creations in Italy and sells them to the lucky men and women of San Francisco. At his eponymous Hayes Valley and Fillmore district boutiques, Iantorno presents two collections annually with 160 styles in each. That's a lotta shoes. And all are of the highest quality.

Fillmore Now - Bi-continental shoe designer extraordinaire Paolo Iantorno manufactures his captivating creations in Italy and sells them to the lucky men and women of San Francisco. At his eponymous Hayes Valley and Fillmore district boutiques, Iantorno presents two collections annually with 160 styles in each. That's a lotta shoes. And all are of the highest quality.

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