What's In A Name? Rincon Hill Rebranded As 'The East Cut'

Photo: Google Maps
By Nathan Falstreau - Published on June 01, 2017.

San Francisco has more than 40 neighborhoods. Today, be prepared to add one more name to that list: Rincon Hill is now known as the East Cut, reported the Chronicle

The decision was made by The East Cut Community Benefit District, formerly known as the Greater Rincon Hill Community Benefit District, to give the neighborhood a cohesive identity. 

"For years prior to its rebirth, our area was lumped in with SOMA, South Park, South Beach, the Financial District, or the Embarcadero," said the CBD in copy for a marketing video announcing the new name.

East Cut totes. | Photo: East Cut CBD/Facebook

The new neighborhood is comprised of what was formerly known as Rincon Hill and the development surrounding the new Transbay Terminal slated to open early next year.

According to the CBD, the name was inspired by the Second Street Cut, which carved through Rincon Hill at a time when it was one of the most fashionable areas in San Francisco.

The CBD doled out $68,000 to help with rebranding the neighborhood, and as residents should already see changes. CBD employees can be found wearing uniforms emblazoned with a new, modern-looking "E." 

“This is a neighborhood with lots of history, and lots of history that still is here,” Andrew Robinson, executive director of The East Cut CBD told the Chron. “It’s a 21st century idea of what a neighborhood should be, mixing old and new and a variety of uses.”

Fremont and Harrison Streets, 2017. | Photo: Google Maps

District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim weighed in on the name change as well. 

“The launch of the East Cut neighborhood name and identity as a thriving and dynamic community with so much artistic flair is resident-driven." Kim told Hoodline in a statement. "I’m happy to see the care and pride that’s gone into this process.”

Rincon Hill, one of the original seven hills of San Francisco, has a storied past. In the late 1800s, after the height of the gold rush, the neighborhood nestled along the southeast side of the city by the bay was once considered a fashionable place to live.

That lasted until 1869, when city planners decided to flatten most of the hill and cut 2nd Street right through the center of the district to increase access between the FiDi and the docks by the waterfront. And after the 1906 earthquake, there wasn't much of anything resembling a neighborhood left.

Industrial warehouses sprung up as part of the effort to rebuild the area and large businesses catering to industry moved in. The neighborhood was mostly unchanged until 1989, when the Loma Prieta Earthquake leveled the area again. 

Fremont and Harrison Streets, 1947. | Photo: SF Public Library

Now, the area is in a seemingly constant state of new construction. Residential glass towers scrape the sky and tech giants like Apple and Google have established offices in the area.

With a neighborhood name change like this comes opposition, and some chalked it up to dollars and cents.

Tony Robles, poet and San Francisco native told us that he thought name changes like this were disingenuous and presumptuous. "It's not respecting community history, wiping it out and starting over from scratch," he said. "It's all marketing and the realtors ... it lacks imagination." 

Others like San Francisco native, comedian, and union activist Nato Green, are more cynical. 

"East Cut continues the wildly successful tradition of marketing consultants imposing names on areas that already exist," he said, "like Pizarro planting a flag for Spain in the uninhabited wilds of the Andes, except for those pesky Inca." 

"East Cut conveys the warmth of the community," he continued, "where neighbors will ask each other for a cup of sugar or an egg, but the ask will be made via Slack as they fly in from London to visit their cute condo in San Fran. They'll have to send their assistant in a parka through the wind tunnels down 20 floors in an elevator, through security of another building, and open 14 floors. It'll take four hours, but will feel like home. That's East Cut."

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