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“At the height of the dot-com boom, twenty million dollars a day of venture capital was being pumped into the Bay Area, and it swept away not just empty and abandoned spaces but also the poor, the eclectic, the alternative, small businesses, and nonprofits; drowned countless continuities, the small stores and elderly residents and longtime denizens who constituted the place’s memory and links to the past. After decades of neglect, vacant lots everywhere filled up, as though the long, sighing exhale of loss had become a quick, choking inhale of cash. Sometimes, as if it had been a neutron bomb, this onslaught of wealth just destroyed the contents of buildings, their fragile residents forced out with their souvenirs and memories; sometimes it tore down less valuable buildings to replace them with ones that would yield more profit and accommodate other populations.

Tens of thousands of newcomers arrived to live not in the San Francisco they found but the San Francisco built out of their paychecks and stock options, a place of brand-new bars and restaurants and boutiques, a place where condominiums were springing up by the thousands, where nonprofits and small businesses, the economically marginal, and seniors and families were being evicted at a rate several times that of a few years earlier.

– Rebecca Solnit, “The Ruins of Memory”


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