Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The future of cities

A few years ago, we received in the mail a Christmas catalog from the luxury retailer Gump's.

Don and I got a great deal of amusement from this catalog, largely centered around the question of "Why?" As in, "Why was it sent to us, people who have no money or interest in luxury goods?" We had never received the catalog before and never have since.

At any rate, we had ourselves a good chuckle over the unaffordable trinkets in the catalog, and then forgot about it.

But now Gump's is in the news, and not for a good reason. It seems the iconic store, which has been a San Francisco staple for 165 years, may be leaving its current location. The reason? The city has become "unlivable."

John Chachas, the owner, says: "It's a sad state of affairs. I spoke to a customer today who's come to us for 50 consecutive Christmases and who won't come back because the city is in a difficult and awfully dirty condition. Our business is a business that people love and people want to come in to San Francisco, want to come visit a store, but if you can't get around and when you're trying to walk the streets you step over needles and human waste and often bodies on the streets, it makes it an unworkable business environment."

This is tragic on so many levels because it's indicative of what's happening to large cities in general and San Francisco in particular.

I have – or had – a great deal of fondness for San Francisco. I grew up in the North Bay Area where a trip to SF was a fun excursion. My college roommate grew up in SF and we sometimes spent a weekend with her parents, and she would show me some of the sights of the city not normally seen by tourists. The memories I have of this city are overwhelmingly positive. Now you couldn't pay me to visit it.

I remember some afternoons spent in an enormous jaw-dropping fabric store off Union Square called Britex Fabrics, where I purchased some fabrics and trim we used in our wedding. The city's zoo and the museums are first-class. I even attended (as part of a school trip when I was 13 years old) the exhibition of the treasures of Tutankhamun when it came through in either late 1976 or early 1977.

San Francisco was always funky and fun. Now it's violent and lawless. It pains me to see a beautiful city degenerate to such a degree that a luxury retailer that has been around for 165 years is now fleeing for greener pastures.

Certainly we'll never purchase anything from Gump's – their products are far outside both our finances and our interest – but their departure is yet another indicator that San Francisco appears to be on an unchangeable "doom loop" trajectory. Where its future lies is anyone's guess.

Of course, Portland (another city I'm fond of), Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, and numerous other cities are facing similar issues. Where the futures for any of these cities lies is anyone's guess.


  1. I was stationed at Presido of San Francisco as an MP,1976/77 and have fond memories of that city, Embarcadao, Fisherman's Wharf, the grounds of the Presido. Great restaurants and the zoo. Yup, you can't pay me either to visit. San Fran is dead to me...

  2. I feel the same way about San Francisco. I too grew up south of 'the City'. Before I could drive, friends and I would take the train to SF for the day. Think about that -- just my friends and I at 14yo and 15yo on our own for an entire day in 'the City'. Oh how times have changed and tragically not for the better. SJ now in California.

  3. I see Florida as a future boom state!
    Those people are getting down to serious business about straightening things out, so I think it's going to come down to where individual cities are located. I think California is mostly going to go under if they don't clean house and get new leadership.
    The Lord is fixing up a city built four square, so maybe it isn't entirely the idea of a city that is so messed up. The problem is the human heart can be pretty wicked. If we belong to the Lord we can be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. I personally prefer the country.

  4. It is sad! The whole state of California is sad. With abundant natural resources, wonderful weather, gorgeous topography and every other advantage, it is sad that the evil, communist politicians have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. I lived in San Diego until I was 31 (leaving in 1990) and remember what a great place it was. No more. It is like visiting a third world country. There are good people left there, my sister among them. But they seem to be outnumbered or fraudulently outvoted by those who seek to overthrow our constitutional republic. I guess all we can do is pray for miracles, because God is the only one who can save us.

  5. I was in the Coast Guard for twenty-one years, eleven of which were spent in the Bay Area. I lived t the old Hamilton Air Force Base Novato, specifically "Ignacio," for most of it, with three years spent in the old Navy housing on Alameda. We loved our time there. Heck; we didn't even have problems when venturing into Oakland!

    The Coast Guard is twenty-one years behind me now. Several of my coworkers have been to San Francisco and say they'll never go again, the city being so filthy and run down. It's a damned shame, actually. It used to be a really neat place to visit. I took my kids there many times and NEVER thought they were in any undue danger. Unfortunately, what these same "politicians" did to San Fran they've since done with the whole state. Again, a damned shame...

  6. This is what happens in most all cities controlled by liberals (Democrats) fact checked by ME

  7. I grew up in the East Bay, where I also worked as a police officer for 20+ years, and also have fond memories of San Francisco. Sadly, it was leftist city councils, county supervisors and the state itself that has led to current conditions. On a brighter note, like most of law enforcement, I fled the state as soon as I retired. And whenever I see someone from California I thank them for providing my outlandish retirement pension.

  8. We've lived in the Sierra foothills, gold country, for 42 years, and our little rural town is still beautiful, clean, and vibrant. Unfortunately, city people fleeing their destroyed cities like it here, too. I do believe our voting system has been compromised/stolen for years. If you look at the results in 2016, the vast majority of counties voted 'red', but nonetheless, the winning party runs the state like its own fiefdom. Fraud is perfected here, then sent out to other states ... California, always at the forefront! We have contemplated leaving for years, but still love our property, our town, and the fields and forests. Our grandkids are an hour away, growing up in a farming town surrounded by abundant orchards and rice fields. Though I'd like to get rid of our gruesome Newsom, I beg you not to elect him president (he's been groomed for that most of his life), or we'll be exporting more than high quality produce and squalor. There are many, many conservatives in California, but the fraud is both entrenched and hidden/protected.

  9. As FranklinGraham said after his father died: All the demons have been unleashed.
    Evil is everywhere and we're not getting a break from it. Only JesusChrist can help us.

  10. Just went to Seattle last week. The city has been cleaned up and is thriving once again.

    Many of these cities are still being ripped apart by inaccurate reporting. Yes, anarchy has been and will still be created in the big cities by those who travel there just to destroy and create hate and discontent. It is so sad that our beautiful downtown areas of the big cities have been subjected to destruction by hate filled mongers.

    Big corporations have chosen to leave some of those big cities and it is viewed as a bad thing. Big corporations are only out to make big money and moving to smaller, less taxed areas helps their bottom line. It isn't always a bad thing for the big cities but as time goes on we may see destruction moving to the smaller areas as anarchists go there instead to destroy and make their point.

    Only time will tell.

  11. Cities aren't going anywhere. They are a worldly construct...more and more towers of babel literally.
    Way back in Biblical times places used to be named after people. And that person's kin lived there.
    After wandering in the desert, the Israelites had land allotments by tribe. The genealogy of those tribes was kept up with along with head counts. There was no king with the Hebrews because authority flowed from God to the priests to the family structure.
    So now we live a different way and it's people all mixed together so we aren't racist, there's so much failure in marriage kids find it hard to find family structure, and kids born out of wedlock have helped create a strong matriarchal family structure as opposed to patriarchal.
    It's all pretty confusing because anyone with chickens can see life comes from the male. And roosters seem to get that they head up chicken family structure.
    But in cities there seems to be a prevalence of poor family structure.
    The only solution is for wheat and tares to be separated, figuratively speaking. Times are coming like the days of Noah and also Sodom and Gomorrah. So cities will be here at the end.