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Unequal cities: Where rich and poor live within blocks of each other

Consider the 94108 ZIP code, embedded in San Francisco. The area stretches from Chinatown to Union Square — or, for those unfamiliar with the area, from a part of the city that historically has been an enclave for thousands of immigrant Chinese, many of whom live in crushing poverty, to the part best known for its luxury shopping and high-end hotels. A quick search shows that in recent years, at least one apartment in that ZIP code was listed for $9,500 per month. In and around Union Square, there are Barneys New York, Bloomingdale’s, Jimmy Choo, Prada, and Tory Burch stores, among many others. The wealthy live there.

Chinatown San Francisco
Chinatown San Francisco


Meanwhile, mere blocks away, in Chinatown, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of multigenerational families living in cramped apartments, perpetually straining to keep going, as this San Francisco Chronicle article shows. There aren’t many national-chain street-level businesses in Chinatown, as those establishments tend to be restaurants or retailers packed full of cheap knockoffs and souvenirs for tourists.