San Francisco’s Melting Pot is a Home for All

Caroline Lobel, Reporter

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The cosmopolitan city of San Francisco attracts tourists and locals alike with its diversity and culture. From its rich history, racial diversity, strong LBGT presence, and iconic landmarks, many people, regardless of where they’re from, feel that the city is home to them. 

Everything the city has to offer is showcased in its streets through the sounds, people, food and the overall atmosphere. It’s a place I, like many others, call home. 

Victorian houses are a symbol of San Francisco’s extensive history, scattering the city and flaunting their survival of the Great 1906 Earthquake that once left the city in ruins. History is also encapsulated in the city’s culture. Grant/Stockton Street Chinatown, for example, is a neighborhood where Chinese immigrants first settled in the mid-1800s as a result of the Gold Rush. 

Aneka Lee, a 19-year-old intern at the Chinese Culture Center in San Francisco, thinks that “[having a Chinatown] makes the transition for especially new immigrants who come here a lot easier than it could be if there wasn’t a Chinese community, because it provides a place where people can feel at home with others who speak the same language and have the same culture as them.” 

Yee is a San Francisco native and grew up connecting with her Chinese culture. 

“There’s a lot of shops in Chinatown, like grocery stores where you can buy really cheap vegetables and fresh fruit and stuff that maybe you don’t find elsewhere. And also, a lot of people here, they actually don’t speak English, so you’re surrounded by the language as well.”

When I was younger, my mom would drop me off at Nam Kue School so I could learn Chinese while she went grocery shopping. At the time, I dreaded those three hours I spent every Sunday at Chinese school; looking back now, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. 

To many, Chinatown is just a tourist destination, but to me and all the residents of Chinatown, it is not just a home, but a living. One cannot simply experience all of the Chinese culture Chinatown has to offer without stepping into one of the stores on Stockton Street, whether it be a grocery store or small bakery. 

Aside from Chinese culture, San Francisco is a melting pot for various other cultures. It’s a place where people from all over the world can celebrate their differences as one loving community. 

 21-year-old student Neha Singh is living in the city for the summer to visit her family. As a person of color originally from Idaho, she enjoys the diversity of San Francisco.

 “There’s [just] white people over there, but here we see Mexicans, Latinos, Nepalese, Indians. We don’t feel like we are foreigners. We feel okay,” Singh said.

The city itself is known to be welcoming to people of all backgrounds, which draws people in from all over the world. But San Francisco’s culture extends beyond race. 

The food in the city is attractive to many as well. With such a diverse population, there’s a large variety of foods to eat whether it be Mexican, Italian, Chinese, American; you name it, it’s all there.

As for the LGBT community, the Castro District is the gay powerhouse of the city, where Pride lasts for more than just one month. San Francisco was the first city to issue same-sex marriage licenses and to host a gay Pride parade. The city’s tolerance makes both locals and tourists feel safe and comforted. 

“The fact that I’m also gay, so it’s just more comfortable living here because I can just be out and be free and doing whatever,” Patrick Trillo, a 27-year-old Los Angeles native with an Instagram famous dog, who has lived in San Francisco for nine years, said. 

Trillo appreciates the strong presence of the LGBT community unique to San Francisco because of the love and support people have for each other. 

Every year, the city throws a big Pride celebration during Pride month. At the end of June, they host a parade where various supporters of and people in the LGBT community march through Market Street.

“We saw homosexual people [at the Pride parade], transgenders. And it was great because in Nepal, we don’t get to see such people there because we are not that open for such kind of thing,” Singh said.

San Francisco is definitely a special city unlike any other especially having grown up there. For nine years of my life, I have been surrounded by this acceptance of all humans. I am fortunate enough to have my norm of society be such a loving one. 

My mom took me to my first Pride parade when I was only 8 years old. I didn’t quite understand its purpose, its rainbow colors and participants’ happiness fascinated me. 

The city’s convenience also draws people in. The public transportation is accessible, and it’s a good city to walk or bike around, though some find the hilly terrain difficult to get around. As an innovative city, there are loads of shops and restaurants to step into and areas to explore. The city also hosts events like street fairs and festivals open to the public every week.

Its scenic views are another plus, as well as the fact that it’s dog-friendly, too. Though San Francisco is for everyone, many find themselves having to move away.

A major drawback is the high cost of living in the Bay Area, especially in San Francisco. The high sales tax and rent prices drive people away or leave them homeless. The median monthly rent in San Francisco is $4,500 as compared to the national median of $1,625. The cost of owning a house is also higher with a whopping $1.3 million in San Francisco versus $223,900 nationally.

Another issue is the fact that companies like to build and move into San Francisco. This leads to low-income residents getting pushed out, further adding to the growing problem of homelessness in the city.

But, despite these problems, people from all over the world, whether they’re locals, natives, tourists or temporary residents find a home in San Francisco. 

Lifelong resident Yee finds a home in “the food and the fact that my family is here.”

Trillo, on the other hand, moved to the city in 2010 away from his family, but he still finds a home in the people. 

“Home means to me anywhere I feel comfortable and happy and loved because here I have all my friends … I don’t want to leave anymore because I’ve made so many connections that it just feels like hard to go anywhere else,” Trillo said. 

For others, it’s the sense of community that makes the city a home. You don’t have to live in the city to feel a connection.

“Home means the place where I don’t feel lonely and I feel safe. San Francisco’s kinda like my home because I don’t feel alone over here because I see different people here. And I have met new, very nice people who’re great friends to me,” Singh said.

Even for Bay Area residents, the city still draws people back. 

32-year-old Federico lived in San Francisco from “[when I was] born to six years old, and then from six years old and on, I moved to the East Bay, but I’ve always rooted back to the city for sure. For fun, for culture, for hangouts, for vibes.” 

Having spent most of my life in San Francisco, I still consider the city to be my home even though I don’t live there anymore. To many tourists, San Francisco is just like every other big city. To me, it’s a small city where everything is right outside my apartment door. The atmosphere emits an indescribable good feeling. I haven’t lived in the city for six years and it breaks my heart every time I hop on BART to go back to the East Bay. 

“I don’t think there’s any other community like that I’ve been to that could compare to the community in San Francisco,” Yee said.

It’s no secret that San Francisco is a popular tourist destination that draws in millions each year, but it’s also a home to many, regardless of where they’re from and what they identify as. You can’t find a melting pot like this anywhere else. 

About the Writer
Photo of Caroline Lobel
Caroline Lobel, Reporter

Caroline Lobel is a rising junior at Dougherty Valley High School located in San Ramon, CA. She will be serving her school's paper, The Wildcat Tribune,...

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