San Francisco is a beautiful city, and it’s listed as one of the best cities in California, according to an article titled, 10 Best Cities to Visit in California, published by Alyssa Ochs. Not only is the breathtaking city home of The Golden Gate Bridge, but it’s also where you find Bayview-Hunters Point. Have you heard of it? Neither had I until my latest trip up north. While driving around with a family friend who lives about 45 minutes away from the beautiful city, I visited some of the uglier parts of the city. My family friend introduced me to Bayview-Hunters Point, and used words so harsh, it didn’t seem real.
The neighborhood, which is located in southern San Francisco, was initially a farm sold by the Hunter brothers in the 1940’s. Bayview-Hunters Point was sold to the U.S Navy for the use of shipyards. The majority of people who first inhabited the community where Italian and Maltese. San Francisco built their first opera house and baseball field here so there is much history in the area. World War II attracted workers from across the country, many of which were African American. Even after the war, many people kept returning because they fell in love with the city. Additionally, the Great Migration (1940-1945) saw six million African Americans leave the southern United States, some of whom decided to reside in Bayview-Hunters Point. By the 1980’s, Hunters Point was 77% African American. The average age for those living in Hunters Point is in their early thirties, with an income of $16,846 – lower than the rest of the city, well below the poverty line. The federal government eventually built public housing. However, homes built were barracks that were made to last only 5 years. Despite the poor condition of homes, a community grew, and some barracks still remain.
After the conclusion of the war, many jobs ended. Many of the people who moved here for work had nowhere to go. Soon, properties were set to prices many inhabitants couldn’t afford.
By the late 50’s and early 60’s, another city in San Francisco, known as Fillmore, was torn apart for urban renewal. Many of the African Americans who lived in Fillmore were unfortunately forced to move, and again many settled Hunters Point. The families who live in Hunters Point most likely live in the same household as generations before, along with their neighbors.
On September 27, 1966, an event known as “The Hunters Point Riots” occurred. A 16-year-old boy stole a car with three friends which resulted in a police chase. The boys ran to find sanctuary in their hometown, Hunters Point. After the three boys split in different directions, a police officer chased and shot 16-year-old Matthew Johnson, Jr. The community of Bayview-Hunters Point responded by rioting, demanding that the mayor to come to the neighborhood and listen to what they had to say. After declining, The National Guard was called which resulted in even more deaths.
Today, there are still many conflicts with the police in Hunters Point . Many people in the community are activists when it comes to police brutality. Many locals protest and call for police reform. The struggle for jobs is still an issue that many young teens have to resort to selling drugs to make some type of profit. The city still has a high crime rate, with 303 assaults just this year.
The riot, unfortunately, was only the start of the cries for help from the city. Unemployment was a prevalent issue in the community. With a lack of jobs, not many people could afford to pay rent, or even pay off eviction notices. San Francisco Bay Area Archive Television is a website that preserves broadcasts and television shows from the 20th century. Bayview Community Speaks Out, a telecast published on March 9th 1966, spoke of the employment issue. The community asked housing authorities for evictions to be put on hold and for rent rates to be reexamined. The housing authority explained, “You can’t look to housing authority for economic resolutions.” The housing authority simply could not provide jobs or collect rent, making the jobs of the housing authority difficult to maintain.
Furthermore, Hunters Point has been plagued with many health issues ever since WWII. Another archived video I watched depicted families in Hunters Point speaking out about housing situations. A mother held her sick child in her arms while explaining the situation at her home. She explained that household rodents often brought with them diseases. The mother then showed her child’s many skin rashes all around his small body. Another citizen even says he asked the city to stop paying rent because the houses are unlivable.
Many residents inhabiting the area also suffer from asthma. The only known contributor to this asthma problem comes from a power plant built in 1929 that has since been demolished in 2008. Many children of the inhabitants of the area are born with many diseases. The breast cancer rates in the area are at their highest as well, with no identified explanation. Harder+Company Community Research reveals statistical facts of Hunters Point. The most shocking research I’ve found is the amount of hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Hunters Point is the highest in 17 categories out of 18. The Navy Shipyard has been in long-term cleanup since 1989 due to the widespread radioactive contamination.
In 2004, a redevelopment plan was established. It was suggested that Third Street in San Francisco be redesigned so that it could be transformed to a marketplace. Much of the city’s tax money will go to the reconstruction of the town. The community has spoken out about creating a decent dining place, or even recreational facilities.
San Francisco attracts many people every year, but how many of them visit Bayview-Hunters Point? The community of Hunters Point is the strongest I’ve seen a community, and I have a high level of respect for those who have lived here and still live there. Attention needs to be drawn to communities like Bayview in order to change them for the better.