San Francisco, the city by the bay may not be as attractive to African Americans as it once was. San Francisco once had a thriving African American community, in fact, the city’s famous Filmore district was once know as “the Harlem of the West”.
The Filmore district, a historically African American neighborhood was the center of black culture in San Francisco. Back in the 1950’s it was the place to go for a burgeoning jazz scene and a lively nightlife.
In more recent times, signs of African American life are becoming rarer every day in the Filmore district as well as San Francisco as a whole. There has been a sharp decline in the city’s Black population and it only seems to be picking up pace.
After WWII, tens of thousands of African Americans came to the city as part of a migration of millions of African Americans from the South to cities in the Northeast, Midwest, and West. The migration to San Francisco reached a peak in 1970 with an African American population of around 96,000, since then there has been a steady decline which by 2010 had brought the African American population down by 50 percent to around 49,000.
A variety of reasons have been suggested for the exodus from the city. The increasing cost of living, the destruction of primarily-African American areas for urban renewal projects, redlining, and unusually high crime rates in the city’s African-American neighborhoods are just some of the reasons given.
Whatever the underlying reason, the decline of the African American population continues today. But there is one contributing factor that is often overlooked. Although it’s true that African Americans are leaving the city, there is also a lack of migration by African Americans to the city.
With skyrocketing rents and a lack of thriving African American neighborhoods, San Francisco is no longer attracting African Americans. With current trends showing no signs of relenting, what was once a thriving African American cultural center will soon become a thing of the past.