I live in San Francisco where it was the first city to issue a shelter in place order, soon followed by a state-wide mandate. My workplace, along with nearly every other tech company across the country, asked us to work from home indefinitely. Bars and restaurants I frequented are barely recognizable behind boarded up windows. And the streets that were once filled with people going out for dinner or happy hour are now replaced with people behind face masks.
It’s been nearly two months since the shelter in place started on March 17. I’m now more or less adjusted to the new lifestyle and have found productive ways to spend the extra time. In addition to adopting more plants and cooking different types of food, I started doing photo walks around San Francisco to document life in quarantine. I’ve always wanted to improve my urban photography so this was a great opportunity to do that.
The first neighborhood of Pandemic Streets features the Mission District.
Mission is one of the most popular and busiest neighborhoods in San Francisco. It’s convenient for weekday happy hours, dollar oyster specials, weekend brunch, and a bunch of activities for the socially active. Because it’s warmer and sunnier than other parts of San Francisco, the streets are always filled with people — especially Dolores Park on a sunny weekend.
I’d walk down Valencia Street on the weekend to browse the boutique stores, stop by Boba Guys or Garden Creamery for a dessert, sunbathe at Dolores Park as I make my way to a nearby happy hour. A lot of my friends also live in the Mission District so social gatherings typically happen in this neighborhood.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the streets look barren as businesses closed down. At first, store owners put up ‘closed’ signs as they figured out how to safely shutter their doors. Over time, pieces of plywood began covering shop windows, some with paintings from local artists and others with words of encouragement. Essential businesses are still open but require shoppers to wear masks and line up six feet apart marked with blue tape. Restaurants serving takeout have barricaded their entrance with tables to maintain six feet. I’ve seen many stores not accepting cash to reduce their staff’s potential exposure to the virus.
With all the shops closed and everyone sheltering in place, the Mission District is deprived of the liveliness it used to see. There are much fewer people on the streets and everyone alternates between the sidewalk and the streets to avoid others. Walking through Mission in the afternoon feels as if I’m walking through it at 7 AM before the city has woken up. It’s crazy to see an entire neighborhood nearly shut down.
Here are some photos taken on April 24 around 2 PM.