Former Neighbor, Now Living in NYC, Remembers Us Fondly


Until late last year, Hilary Pollack lived in Bernal’s La Lengua Autonomous Zone. Then she moved to New York.

Now, as an esteemed member of the Bernal Heights Alumni Network, San Francisco remains on her mind, and she recently shared some memories on her blog:

I moved to New York on September 1st, 2013. I often get asked, by people both here and in California, whether or not I like it. And I feel like I should be completely sure how to answer them, but I’m not.

My coworkers, my parents, or my friends back in California (many of whom I still text or Gchat with on a near-daily basis, one of the few plus-sides of contemporary tech-communication norms) usually pose this question as well-meaning small talk, but I’ve yet to come up with a confident answer. I feel 100-percent sure that I needed to move here at some point my life, and 110-percent sure that I chose the perfect time to do it. But whether I think that New York is patently better to live in than San Francisco or any other decent metropolis? Well, I’m just not sure about that, no matter how many people tell me that the colloquial Big Apple is the best city in the world. There’s so much to it, I know, but it lacks trees (especially of the palm variety), decently priced avocados, and underdog charm (something that’s rapidly and violently being sucked out of my beloved San Francisco).

The house that I left behind was at the base of Bernal Hill. I would take 6-minute hikes from my front door to its peak, where I could ogle all of the Australian Shepherds in the city as they chased each other in circles around its slopes. Once, some local do-gooder mischief-makers dragged a stand-up piano up to the top of it, and people would play concertos and shit while others would sit in circles around them like hungry first-graders. Another time, someone made an expansive crop circle at its base out of red rocks. It was magical.

That’s just a taste; to finish the thought, read the whole thing.

PHOTO: via Hilary Pollack

13 thoughts on “Former Neighbor, Now Living in NYC, Remembers Us Fondly

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I actually can’t remember where I originally got that photo, but sad to say that I didn’t take it myself. I wish I could give the proper credit to whoever did!

  2. New York city versus Bernal? (Big) Apples and oranges. There’s plenty to like and dislike about both places, it’s all a matter of perspective. If you spend all your time in your new location thinking about your old location, perhaps you’re not where you prefer to be. NY does not lack trees (it has many more throughout than San Francisco has, by far. Try TJ’s for avocados. SF has an underdog charm? I disagree. San Diego has an underdog charm, SF is a winner no matter how you slice it.

    Like that piano dragged up to the hill — for some it’s an image of an imaginative San Franciscan trying to enrich their surroundings, for others it’s the beginning of a dump.

  3. Todd – I enjoyed your comment that you trust today’s 24 year olds to seek out that which continues to be great in SF. Wasn’t everything a bit more wild and unpredictable when we were younger? Gentrification is happening but we can’t blame it for how our individual perspectives have changed with age. About six months ago I wandered into a Japanese punk show at the Knockout after a Cancun burrito and was reminded just how different I once was.

  4. And holy crap you also wrote about Capitol Hill’s most terrifying vending machine, which lurked near a previous last home over 15 years ago. You’ve really got my number!

  5. Yea, I really get tired of people comparing SF to NY or anywhere. ANY city is great for you, because you decide WHAT you want and why you want it. There is no ONE best city. We need far more trees here. Try going out to the Sunset district and see ALL the disgusting paved front yards and no trees. SF is whatever you make it. And please, don’t leave that piano up on the hill to rot.

    • No day shall pass without reminding ourselves how wonderful we are for ending up where we are. We’re not insecure! Not us!

  6. My street and every neighboring street in Brooklyn was tree lined. I mean trees on one side of the street touching the other from the tops. I think that happens on Shotwell somewhere but I forget which blocks. A semi rare sight in the mission/pot/BH.
    I really take offense when people say NYC is just a concrete jungle. Central park couldn’t be more…well.. central. And the grass in central park looks like a golf course in San Francisco. Can anyone explain to me why all of our parks are mostly crab grass? Prospect park is pretty nice too.
    I could go on, but it’s a topic that’s been rehashed a million times.

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