Of the many neighborhoods and districts in San Francisco, the Fillmore District stands alone as a cultural hub that has brought great musicians together, but separated many Americans in a slight of gentrification disguised as redistribution. The Fillmore District has been around since before the turn of the century and many people credit its popularity with its near complete lack of damage during the 1906 earthquake that nearly flattened all of San Francisco with destruction and fires. It was this catastrophic event, and the later following World War II, that would lead to the shaping of this ethnically diverse hub right in the heart of one of America’s largest cities.
After the 1906 earthquake destroyed most of San Francisco, many residents sought to find a new home in one of the areas still left unaffected by the horrific damage. It was this migration that brought a large number of Jewish and Japanese residents to the Fillmore District. Displaced residents from the South Market District combined with an influx of Jewish emigrants to form what was then considered the center of the Jewish community in all of San Francisco. The other group of people who occupied most of the Fillmore District at the time of the earthquake were the Japanese Americans. They developed a small Japan town that still exists today, but have not been without their own struggles throughout the history of the city.
Along with African Americans, World War II had a huge effect on the Fillmore District’s Asian American population. As if it were a cause and effect relationship, with the start of World War II and the disgraceful executive order that put all of the Japanese American citizens in internment camps, the Fillmore District was left with a large number of empty and available homes. The African American community, drawn in by the promise of jobs building ships in the bay and the escape from the racist south, ended up taking occupation of these homes and the resulting five years before and after the war saw the population of the Fillmore District African Americans go up ten times. After the war and the internment camps, Japanese Americans made their way back to the Fillmore District as well and thus began a new melting pot of Jewish, Japanese, and African Americans.
The open-minded population in the 1960’s made it a cultural hub to legendary psychedelic rockers Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. This reputation for music and adversity towards the man gave the Fillmore District the reputation it still lingers on to today. The popularity of jazz music also took over and was brought to the Fillmore District by the large African American population. Despite being accused of driving out ethnic minorities with urban renewal projects, the governing bodies still try to hold on to the jazz element made famous in this bright and bustling district of San Francisco. Regardless of their struggles, there’s no doubt that the many different people of the Fillmore District are the reason it is the hopping hub of culture it is today.