Before the Castro, Polk Gulch was San Francisco's Gayborhood
Slinging burgers till 4am since any San Franciscan can remember, Grubstake is among Polk Gulch's original LGBT-owned businesses. (Courtesy of @grubstakesf)

Before the Castro, Polk Gulch was San Francisco's Gayborhood


Before the Castro became the gay mecca for the entire United States, Polk Gulch, centered around Polk Street, was the hub for the LGBT community.

Sure, gay bars quietly existed in other parts of the city—in the Tenderloin and North Beach—but Polk Gulch was the first neighborhood where gay-owned daytime establishments, such as restaurants and clothing stores, opened and catered directly to the LGBT community.

Take a twirl through Polk Gulch during the 1960s and '70s, its heyday as the epicenter of San Francisco's LGBT world.

Cinch Saloon

The self-proclaimed "last standing gay bar" on Polk Street, Cinch Saloon is the second-oldest continuously operating gay bar in the city. Full of history, Cinch Saloon also takes its western facade from the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, where a big part of Polk Street was transformed into an Old West–style town and merchants all played a part.

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