The stories surrounding the Tenderloin District in SF (San Francisco) range from slightly unsettling to downright scary.
This San Francisco neighborhood is just as famous for its turn-of-the-century architecture as it is for its crime-laden history.
But are the stories true? Should you really be afraid to visit the Tenderloin after dark? Let’s find out!
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Is The Tenderloin District in SF Safe to Visit?
Yes and no.
Generally, people are afraid to visit the Tenderloin District for a good reason.
However, it is not necessary to avoid the neighborhood completely.
There are some very interesting things to see there, and it would be a shame if you missed them because of the neighborhood’s reputation.
Employ the same safety precautions you would elsewhere in San Francisco, like never taking your phone out of your bag.
Especially, don’t go alone, and be extra careful wandering around after dark.
The Stories That Keep People Away From SF’s Tenderloin District
The name “Tenderloin” itself can be traced back to a New York police captain who once insinuated that he could afford a tenderloin steak because of all the bribes he extracted on his beat.
Many cities have their own “Tenderloins,” known as areas of vice and illegal activity, and San Francisco is no exception.
During the Gold Rush era, the neighborhood became known as the entertainment district of SF.
The definition of “entertainment” was often stretched to include some quasi-legal ventures, like Tessie Wall’s infamous brothel.
When the city cracked down on the aforementioned ventures, crime and drug dealing ended up filling the void.
The Tenderloin District Today
1. The drug market
Today, the Tenderloin is widely known as a hotspot for drug dealers.
Some have called it an open-air market for narcotics, as you can easily find pretty much anything there, from LSD to heroin.
However, as long as you don’t go looking for trouble yourself, you should be just fine.
2. The homeless population
The homeless population of the Tenderloin is what tends to make people feel uneasy in this neighborhood.
Almost half of SF’s homeless population lives here. However, most of them won’t bother you as long as you don’t bother them.
Be respectful, kind, and bring a friend along if you still feel unsafe.
3. The mysterious underground tunnels
Did you know that in 2016, a number of secret tunnels were underneath a new development project in the Tenderloin?
Rumor has it, they were used to discreetly move people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community underground during police raids in 1930.
The Haunt Experience
While the Tenderloin certainly has a reputation for being one of the creepiest neighborhoods in SF, it is definitely not the only one.
If exploring spooky neighborhoods sounds like your idea of a fun night out, our Haunted San Francisco Ghost Tour is for you.
Ready to discover the dark side of SF?