Several projects celebrating the leather and kinky history of the South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco are advancing, from completing a public parklet named after a legendary bar to installing sidewalk markings that showcase current and former LGBTQ people. Companies in the region are honored.
A new zebra crossing with the colors blue, white and black of the leather flag now marks the beginning of the public parklet Eagle Plaza on 12th Street in Bernice. The $ 1.85 million project, begun in 2019, is turning part of the street into a common room. Almost entirely, it’s named after the gay Eagle Bar, which is on the corner of 12th Street and Harrison Street at the other end of the parklet.
Similar leather-themed pedestrian crossings may one day greet pedestrians in various locations on Folsom Street, according to the Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District. Folsom Street, once known as “The Miracle Mile”, is planned on or near Folsom Street to ensure the safety of pedestrians along one of the major arteries due to the numerous companies dealing with LGBTQ and leather scenes Increase SOMA.
As part of the Folsom-Howard Streetscape project, which will also bring safety improvements to Howard Street, the Leather District advocates that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Department incorporate decorative crosswalks inspired by the leather flag in the alleys that Folsom runs from 7th to 7th for eleventh crossing streets. It would also love to see signs for the leather district posted on street lamps and traffic light poles in the area, as well as the leather pride flag painted on it, as was the case in the transgender area of the city in the Tenderloin.
“Construction may not start until 2022, but we will continue to work to ensure that our history and culture are respected and reflected,” explains the leather district on its website about the SFMTA project.
Meanwhile, the Leather Quarter has had close discussions with the city’s public works department and the office of District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents SOMA, about the inclusion of 14 of the pavement plaques marking historic LGBTQ business locations along Folsom Street A project to improve pedestrian safety carried out by the city authority.
As the Bay Area Reporter first reported in September, bronze plaques will one day be found on the sidewalk near the various LGBTQ bars, shops, and bathhouses that operate or are currently in operation. There used to be more than 120 such facilities, today there are only 12.
Such historic establishments as Folsom Street Barracks, the Arena, Ramrod, The Brig, and the San Francisco Club Baths would have the historic markings added to them. One would also be installed in the Eagle Bar and The End Up nightclub on the corner of Sixth and Harrison Streets.
Another would be in the BAR’s former home at 395 Ninth Street. The weekly LGBTQ newspaper, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, called the location home from December 1988 to October 2013.
Leather district managers worked with local LGBTQ historians Shayne Watson and Gayle Rubin, who specializes in leather history, to finalize the list of locations. The Board of Supervisors approved the plaques on April 6, while the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Civic Design Review Committee unanimously approved the markings on the sidewalk at its April 19 meeting.
Lesbian artist Debra Walker, one of the five members of the committee, joked that she has been to or visited almost all of the 124 LGBTQ businesses currently identified by the Leather District.
“It’s really amazing to go around the south area of the market and see how many places have closed,” said Walker. “A lot of us came to San Francisco because it was a welcoming place and we had a place to socialize and raise families. I think it’s really important that we write this down as we do. This one Badges on the sidewalk are really effective; even if you aren’t looking for them, you’ll see them as you walk. I love the ones at Castro and look forward to seeing them. “
Walker was referring to the bronze plaques along Upper Market Street, on or near the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street, honoring historic LGBTQ people. The Berkeley-based Artworks Foundry that created the Rainbow Honor Walk badges was to be hired to make the leather badges, which were designed by Jon Stoa.
The majority of the plaques will be installed between fifth and twelfth streets in SOMA, Cal Callahan, the leather district manager, said during Monday’s design review hearing. Around 80 locations have already received city guides’ approval to receive badges, while the other locations identified by Watson and Rubin are set to be added to the official list in the future.
“You went back a few years to jot down all of the notable institutions, businesses, and other landmarks in the district,” Callahan told the art commissioners.
The district will charge an estimated $ 120,000 to pay at least 50 of the plaques from the community impact fees that developer L37 Partners is required to pay for its 244 rental housing estate in SOMA. The city’s planning commission recently approved the construction of the project in Folsom and on 11th Street next to the Oasis gay nightclub, which should one day receive its own badge.
In other news, Leather Quarter is looking for the names of local, living LGBTQ community members for a photo mural installation the SOMA West Community Benefit District plans to display in a prominent building on Folsom Street. Suggestions can be sent by email
And in conjunction with Folsom Street Events, which host the city’s two fetish fairs each year, the Leather Quarter will be attending SOMA’s second Saturdays. A stand will be set up on Folsom and Dore streets from 12pm to 5pm on May 8th and June 12th
It invites a few kinky vendors and nonprofits to join in while the gay bar Powerhouse in this location serves al fresco dining and drinks. Attendees are asked to follow all COVID-related masking and distancing requirements applicable on those days.
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