For over a century, the Uptown Tenderloin has been a leading venue for live San Francisco entertainment. Finished basements under SROs were commonly used for popular music, and the Musicians Union was headquartered here. From the Savoy Theater to the still thriving Great American Music Hall, Exit Theater and Golden Gate Theater, the Uptown Tenderloin is a place where people come to be entertained.
The Uptown Tenderloin is also known for its "illicit" activities. The neighborhood hosted illegal card games and speakeasies, which flourished during Prohibition. Until the late 1950's, most local restaurants offered opportunities to gamble on horseracing or sporting events, a trend that continued into the 1980's as Southeast Asian immigrants congregated to play pai gow poker, a Chinese gambling game. The neighborhood also had its share of strip clubs and porno theaters, most of which are gone.
Activism is central to the Uptown Tenderloin's history. In July 1966, activists led a protest at Compton's Cafeteria and helped launch San Francisco's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) movement. In the 1960's, Reverend Cecil Williams began promoting civil rights through his activist-oriented ministry at Glide Memorial Church. The 1980's saw residents organize to preserve residential hotels, and to rezone the neighborhood to prevent gentrification. Southeast Asian refugees also organized to protect their homes in the face of unscrupulous landlords.
By uncovering the neighborhood's culturally rich, diverse history and attracting people to patronize local businesses, the Uptown Tenderloin Museum will propel the neighborhood toward a brighter future.
To find out how you can get involved in the future museum, please visit our Contact page. Tax-deductible contributions toward the museum's development can be made by donating here.