1645 Folsom Street, #7. My first—non-shared—apartment in San Francisco. September/October 1987.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was one of those places I immediately think of when I hear the word “home.”
At the time, the area was still very much industrial/commercial in nature. The building was a half block from Hamburger Mary’s and just around the corner from the SF Eagle. At $745 a month, this one bedroom plus den stretched my budget but I loved it. #7 overlooked the extremely shallow paved back yard (that was never used by anyone). It had a good southern exposure, even though the equally tall buildings completely surrounding the yard sometimes made it feel like it was at the bottom of a light well. It also had an easily accessible roof deck where you could throw a lounge chair and catch some rays or the wonderful views at night.
About eighteen months after I moved in, #9 opened up on the top floor, and I jumped on it. It wasn’t quite as big as #7 (no separate den), but it was bright and airy, had a charming—if non working—fireplace, and a decent view of Twin Peaks if you stood in either of the bay windows.
The biggest adjustment moving upstairs to the opposite side of the building was the noise. Sleep was impossible with the windows open for the first few nights I was there because I was now facing Folsom, and even then it was a busy thoroughfare. But when the winter rains started sound of drops hitting the pavement and the woosh-woosh of cars passing on those wet nights more than made up for it. Parking (or lack thereof) continued to be a problem; I can’t even begin to tell you how many hundreds of dollars in $10 overnight street-cleaning parking tickets I racked up. But this was still home, and after I struck an arrangement with one of the business owners a few doors down to rent a parking space in their lot for $25 a month, the parking problem all but disappeared.
Then there was the stove in #9. It apparently hadn’t received a proper cleaning since it was originally put in place from the looks of it. I made the mistake one night of lifting up the range top, thinking I’d only have to wipe up a few spills under the burners, but I ended up spending the entire evening—with a putty knife—scarping off god knows how many years of accumulated gunk. But it shined thereafter!
This is where I was living when the Loma Prieta quake hit in 1989. The building came through with nary a scratch, but it pointed out the disadvantage of living in that particular area; probably because of its zoning and demographics, it was one of the last areas of The City to regain power. Even so, if I hadn’t made a very poor decision some months earlier and asked an even poorer decision of a romantic partner to move in with me, I might’ve stayed much longer. As it was, we transferred the lease into his name and I moved out in 1990.