This chapter explores how congregations of street dwellers in San Francisco, California separated into different subcultures and spaces, highlighting a dramatized semiotic divide between the Tenderloin, the geographic and symbolic center of the city’s street scene, and Dogpatch, a more remote and peaceful edge zone. The Tenderloin is home to thousands of poor whites, African Americans, Latinos, Southeast Asians, refugees and bohemians, swindlers and prophets. By concentrating many of the city’s most disreputable poor, it stands as a bulwark against the engine of gentrification north and south, its rambling slum hotels, liquor stores, sex shops, low-income housing developments, and poverty agencies covering a good fifteen city blocks between Union Square and City Hall. Both Tenderloin and Dogpatch symbolize very different ways of both living through and understanding homelessness.
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