Aside from travel writing’s sometimes proclivity for exaggeration, the once legendary and long disappeared Barbary Coast neighborhood has been re-born. Well, sort of. I’ve spent the month of August looking for remnants of it and until I met a man named William Sauro I had no idea that the neighborhood is officially back.
But, you’re probably thinking right now, I thought the Barbary Coast was long gone since 1917?
I met Mr. Sauro at the Old Ship Saloon, fittingly enough, since the bar – on Pacific and Battery Streets, right in the heart of the Barbary Coast – is constructed from an old ship that had brought miners from New York to get in on the potential riches of the Gold Rush. I wanted to ask him the same question about this supposed resurrection of the Barbary Coast.
But why, I asked, did they choose the name Barbary Coast? After all, it’s a bit ironic that a bunch of well-off city dwellers would take a name known for crime and poverty (adding an extra dose of the irony is that the San Francisco Board of Realtors endorsed the name change).
“The Financial District Neighborhood Association just doesn’t sound very cool,” Sauro said. I agreed.
Sauro did make an interesting connection between the current neighborhood and the legendary one, noting the expensive restaurants that have popped up along the nearby Embarcadero. “They’re great restaurants,” Sauro said. “But so expensive that people in the neighborhood are still being shanghaied–just in a totally different way.”
And so, as such, the Barbary Coast is re-born. That sounds newsworthy to me.