Thursday, May 18, 2017

the last book I ever read (David Talbot's Season of the Witch, excerpt four)

from Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot:

Music was at the heart of San Francisco’s magical transformation in the 1960s. And at the beginning of the decade, the Fillmore was the music’s hot center. They called the Fillmore “the Harlem of the West.” The streets were filled until the early morning hours with a parade of peacocks: men with diamond stickpins, satin ties, and long coats; women in slit dresses and furs. Adventurous white kids like Jerry Garcia would sneak into the Fillmore clubs and dance halls, this forbidden empire of cool, to hear the music they couldn’t find on Top 40 radio.

And then it was all gone, destroyed block by block by the wrecking balls and bulldozers of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. As Jerry Garcia later sang, “Nothin’ shakin’ on Shakedown Street, used to be the heart of town.” The agency launched the first phase of its massive urban renewal project in 1953, erasing stores, nightclubs, and churches and more than twenty-five thousand residents from hundreds of city blocks. Geary Street, a bustling commercial center, was turned into an eight-lane expressway, so that cars and buses carrying commuters downtown from the predominately white west-side neighborhoods could hurtle directly through the Fillmore without stopping. Ten years later, the agency kicked off the second phase of its Fillmore blitzkrieg, uprooting an additional thirteen thousand people and shuttering thousands of more businesses over sixty square blocks.

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