Saturday, August 05, 2006

Carlton Goodlett Place

Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place is and is not a little street. Hunh?

It's actually an aka for Polk Street, a north-south artery one block east of Van Ness. Huunnh??

Since 1915, San Francisco City Hall has found itself sandwiched between Polk and Van Ness, Grove and McAllister. None of these even remotely qualifies as a little street. Yet, since 1999, City Hall has enjoyed a little-street address. The part of Polk Street it faces is now Goodlett Place. All the glamour of a move, without all those pesky moving boxes, tape and disruption.

What gives? As they say on the official city website:

City Hall's official address is now 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place. The two blocks of Polk Street in front of City Hall were renamed Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place in honor of Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett, the late local civil rights leader, community activist, physician and publisher. Dr. Goodlett was the publisher of the Sun Reporter newspaper, and served as the president of the San Francisco branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The official renaming ceremony took place on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, January 18, 1999.

What the official website doesn't say is that Dr. Goodlett's community activism centered on the fight with City Hall and the federal government to include Fillmore neighborhood residents in planning for the future of their neighborhood. Alas, before locals could speak, wrecking balls had destroyed not only the delapidated housing but also the clubs and businesses that were home to a vibrant jazz scene. (It took years before new housing replaced the old, and by then much of the old spark was lost.)


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