Polk Street Stories

by Todd Mundt on June 16, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010 9pm

Producer: Atlantic Public Media
Listen Again

Public Historian Joey Plaster spent over a year gathering more than 70 interviews from people experiencing the transition of Polk Street in San Francisco from a working class queer neighborhood to an upscale entertainment district. This documentary contains stories from the alleys and bars, churches, shelters and clubs. It is an oral history of a place invented by those who had no other home.

As Joey says in his introduction:

“If the famous gay Castro neighborhood was scrubbed clean and glossy, I was always more attracted to its black sheep sister, the queer world of Polk Street. It was a whole world to itself, just about ten blocks of low rent hotels, bars and liquor stores, all sandwiched in between the gritty Tenderloin, City Hall, and the upscale Nob Hill. But by the time I got there, that scene was receding, and luxury condos and posh clubs were taking its place. I found that its marginal history wasn’t written down and hadn’t been recorded. I feared it too would disappear with the neighborhood. In a way, I started to think about Polk Street as this parent I never knew, now elderly and dying. And it became an obsession to save its history – its collective wisdom and secrets — before they were gone completely.”

This Transom Radio Special is produced by Joey Plaster with Jay Allison and Transom.org at Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

photo credit: Allan Ferguson

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