It’s not often that a 93-year-old, a trapeze artist, a kid from the Sunnydale projects, and a DJ from a gentlemen’s club can find something in common. But if you’ve ever been to Fifth and Market in downtown San Francisco, you know that the intersection is one place where this was possible. That’s where people of all walks of life have been playing chess since the 1980s.
Between the Transbay Transit Tower on First and Mission streets, envisioned to be the west coast’s tallest building, and the emerging tech hub anchored by Twitter at 10th and Market Streets, the city is becoming shinier and newer. But almost exactly in between those highly publicized developments is the rough and gritty Sixth Street. Dotted with single room occupancy hotels, Sixth Street has a well-documented history of chronic poverty and crime. It’s also the neighborhood where photographer Rey Cayetano grew up.
For the last twenty years, San Francisco city leaders have promised to address the long-standing challenges facing the Mid Market Street neighborhood, but nothing has really changed.Now, San Francisco is taking a fresh approach to revitalizing Mid Market Street that includes attracting tech businesses and actively reaching out to arts organizations, community groups and residents to create a new vision for this diverse neighborhood.