If you live in San Francisco, you’ve probably heard someone’s two-cents about Noe Valley. From the things I’ve heard, a lot of them may be true but only seem to brush the surface. Yes, Noe Valley seems to be part of a perfectly-cut, bunch of cookies. The streets are well maintained, youthful parents enjoy brunch with their children and everyone appears to be happy. In comparison to other neighborhoods, it’s on the verge of feeling Stepford Wives-ish.
Noe Valley is quite obviously an affluent neighborhood. Beautifully designed apartments line the strip of Noe Street as far as you can see in both directions. Buzzing coffee shops are full of patrons working away on their MacBook Airs while beautiful young couples load their Whole Foods groceries into their Fiats. During early afternoons, the streets become quiet as everyone is away at work, probably at their tech job. Mostly dog walkers and nannies are scattered throughout the blocks.
Though Noe Valley seems to be a quiet little neighborhood with not much happening, the sense of a strong community definitely exists. I could literally feel it. Sure, the streets can be empty with a few coming and going but there is much more than meets the eye.
It was hard to ignore my initial assumption that this San Francisco neighborhood might be, well, bland. However, when the people I met entered the picture, excitement filled that dull void. I talked to longtime business owners, new residents and people who just like hanging out in Noe Valley. They all seemed to share a common enthusiasm.
Of the people I talked to, several have lived or owned a business in Noe for over a decade. These people had a long history with the neighborhood and unique understanding of it. They have seen all the changes, good and bad, and continue to love the community that supported them for so long. They also all know each other. After mentioning my intent to report on the happenings of their neighborhood, most immediately suggested other people I should talk to.
To an outsider, Noe Valley may appear to be pretty predictable, normal and maybe even lacking diversity. This is the opposite of the reality. During the last few days I’ve spent in the neighborhood, my curiosity has grown and I’m looking forward to sharing the experiences of its community.