Aug 15 2008

My First Experience In San Francisco

My friend Vasken and I flew out to San Francisco for the weekend to go to a WordPress conference called Wordcamp. I have been to other countries and other continents, but I have never been off the East coast.

We were really excited about spending time in the city and go to the conference until everything went downhill. Speaking of downhill, I thought the entire city was on a hill, but we walked through part of the city and didn’t see one hill. However I know they are here somewhere, we just haven’t seen them yet.

Back to my story. Even though I grew up right outside Boston, I was sheltered. I have been to the bad parts of Boston, but I was in shock as to what I saw in San Fran. We walked 12 city blocks and saw at least 50 homeless people sleeping in store fronts. This wasn’t even the bad part of the city. We passed the “Four Seasons Hotel” which is one of the nicest hotels. Vasken and I were discussing the fact that are opinions about the city changed drastically in a few hours. At one point Vasken suggested that we start a company and relocate to San Francisco. After tonight, we wanted to fly back to Boston ASAP and never come back.

I am sorry to the people who might live in san fran who read this, but I did not like the city one but and neither did Vasken.

About the author

Timothy Haroutunian

Timothy Haroutunian is a ServiceNow Cloud Implementation Specialist at Acorio. ServiceNow is an IT Management solution that allows for a complete view of your IT and physical environment.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.armenianeagle.com/2008/08/15/my-first-experience-in-san-francisco/



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  1. Zach

    I could not possibly agree more. I attended WordCamp last year, and was shocked to find how absolutely dirty SF is. There are some interesting sites to see, but the fact of the matter is the city is a sesspool. Seems like a well kept secret though somehow…

  2. anne

    Wow, sorry you had such a terrible experience. I lived in SF for five years, and still have many good friends who live in various neighborhoods of the city. Yes, there are many homeless, more so than many New England cities — because the weather is very good and they are treated with respect.

    I’ve lived in Boston since 2000, and I’m amazed at how unfriendly people are here compared to anywhere on the West Coast. I’ve made far fewer friends here, despite joining many more networking groups and organizations. I think because SF is a “transient” city, where people move to instead of grow up in, it was easier to meet people. Everyone wanted to get to know you. Here in Boston, it seems unless you went to college here or are from here, no one wants to meet you.

    It sounds like there is no changing your mind, that your experience has completely put you off based purely on the homeless situation. Hopefully you will attempt another trip to SF, and if you do, I ask that you find a local who can show you around.

  3. tom

    Found this through Universalhub…

    Well, yeah — that part of San Francisco can be pretty rough. Too bad you didn’t get a chance to visit some of the more neighborly neighborhoods…I’m particularly fond of Noe Valley.

    I also used to live in SF (grew up there in fact), and I have fond memories of the place. (Moved to Boston in 1999.) But there are places in SF where I wouldn’t go after business hours, and Market Street (downtown) is one them.

    Incidentally, I agree with anne about Boston. The only friends I’ve made here were in graduate school, and there only a few. I was probably spoiled by the social vibe out West! Ah well…

  4. 3D

    Being another native Bostonian, I was shocked by the number of homeless in SF the first time I visited. I left with a very negative impression of the city and didn’t think I’d ever go back. Fortunately, I have several friends there and have been back multiple times. SF grew on me after the 3rd time and it’s now one of my favorite cities in the US.

    As for Boston’s unfriendly reputation, I couldn’t disagree more. I find that people who spend most of their time in Cambridge/Back Bay/Downtown tend to be those who find this city unfriendly. I’ve lived in and spend a lot of time in Roxbury/JP/South End and have met tons of new people and made some great friends. Although, the friendliest people by far are in East Boston. That neighborhood is like something out of a movie.

  5. James O'Boston

    Nice job!

    Those homeless people are DISGUSTING.

    They SMELL!

    Actually, you totally missed the point. You sound like a real, spoiled twit.

    Yeah, i’m from Cambridge too. We’re the kings of the freaking universe, oh yes we are!

  6. Timothy Haroutunian

    I am not saying that was the only reason, but I was blogging this from my blackberry and I didn’t really want to explain everything that happened that made the trip horrible.

    When we first got out of the airport and went to the BART, to go to our hotel, the conductor was very rude to everyone on the subway. He yelled at a 70 year old man for bringing his airport cart on the subway, but the conductor closed the doors before he could get the cart back out. He also yelled at another group of people who were doing the best they could to get on and he yelled over the P.A, “Hurry up, I’m waiting for you” (in a rude tone).

    Also, my debit card was eaten by the ATM machine Friday night and I had basically no money, except what I took from the ATM. It may not seem like it was a bad experience from the outside, but it was one thing after another that started to crumble and it wasn’t getting better.

    @ James – “…real spoiled twit”, that doesn’t even make sense. You are saying I am a spoiled annoying or foolish person. Why am I spoiled? I had an observation about a city and wrote it on my blog…how does that make me spoiled. Also I never said I was from Cambridge? I said I grew up outside of Boston and I never claimed that I/we were the “kings of the freaking universe”.

    @ others – Personally I had a bad experience, but other people in my family/friends who have been out there have loved it. I was just making a statement that my trip didn’t go as planned and as I stated above, I was making an observation. In Boston, you don’t see many homeless people because of weather, but we have shelters like Rosie’s Place for homeless or poor women and the Pine Street Inn for homeless and poor men/women and children. My friend Vasken was talking with one of his friends who is in SF and she told him that there are a lot more people on the street since they closed the hospital for people with serious physiological problems. How is that treating them with respect? I don’t know all the details behind it, but that is what I was told.

    Thank you for the comments, but remember, I am not claiming that Boston is the end all be all city, I am just saying that my first experience in SF wasn’t a good one.

  7. margalit

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I lived in the Bay area for four of the longest, most painful years of my life. To say I hated it would be being polite. It absolutely SUCKED. Did you notice the lack of families in SF as compared to Boston? It’s because nobody in their right mind would raise children in that city. My daughter at age 6 was ACCOSTED by a homeless person and pressed against a wall while he demanded money from her. She was just SIX. I didn’t forget that and neither has she. It was frightening. It’s a horrible city for families.

    Additionally, that diversity they always brag about? Hah. What a freaking joke. It’s diverse as long as you’re either Asian or Hispanic. If you’re something else, they HATE you and they let you know all the time

    As for friendliness, everyone drives into their garages and enters their homes from the garage. You never even SEE your neighbors outside of their cars. I lived for 4 years in the same house and didn’t even know who my neighbors were. They don’t allow their kids to play outside…ever. Especially the Asian families, who are very wary of white kids. My kids had almost no friends on the street. The ONLY people we knew were from Toronto and moved even before we did. They hated it even more than we did.

    The city is FILTHY. Disgustingly so. The city is filled with young stupid people who think it’s cool to parade around naked and drunk. They forget that there are families and elderly people afraid to leave their homes due to the perversity of some of the ‘parades’. The schools are SO bad that they can’t keep families in the city. Unlike Boston, they have a lottery system that discourages parents from staying once their kids hit kindergarten age. There are few activities for children provided by the city. Everything costs and arm and a leg, and if you complain they start in with “But SF is the greatest city in the world. The diversity, I can’t live anywhere else….” It makes me sick.

    I wouldn’t even go back to visit. THAT is how much I hate that city.

  8. osric

    Yes, SF has a huge homeless population. And I’ve seem my share of crime at night on its streets. But I’ve also explored it’s neighborhoods, restaurants, and festivals. It’s a beautiful place with great weather. But it is a city and has city problems. You should visit again before you write off the whole place based on Market Street’s grittiness.

  1. Armenian Eagle » What’s Wrong With The West Coast & Showing The Olympics

    […] I wrote an article about my experience in San Francisco and how awful it was for my friend Vasken and I. Now, I am going to explain how the West Coast […]

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