Noe Valley has the feeling of being a small suburban village unto itself and this has been the case for a long while. It feels very similar to places like Mill Valley and Palo Alto (which, i admit, some people consider quite different in themselves).
Having lived here [in Noe Valley] for years, I will admit that there is certainly more of a ‘car culture’ here. Obviously there are an endless number of families who made the very self-conscious decision to move here. The suburban quality is not primarily caused by Noe Valley’s feeling of being physically removed from the city, though. I think it is more caused by the feeling that everyone in Noe Valley is deeply focused on the practical going-ons of their individual every day life. For instance, you are more likely to see young people off on their own in Cole Valley, just sitting in a cafe with a book. In Noe Valley, on the other hand, one is more likely to see a group of women having coffee, with their local jogging group, with their babies, with their jogging strollers, on the way to a play dates, or shopping, and then yoga, etc.
What I mean to say is that while Noe Valley feels removed from city life, that such a feeling may be just a manifestation of this suburban mindset on the neighborhood’s residents’ parts. They may not want to live entirely ‘in the city’ in every sense of the term. They want to be near a lot of things (which Noe Valley certainly is, and not at all far away from great things as some posts here have stated), without sacrificing the feeling that their neighborhood is ‘more home’ in a certain sense than the rest of the city.
So, the people in Noe Valley simply have a fully realized liberal fantasy. The ‘charm’ of a tightly controlled social environment, while being near all of those other parts of the city that they can’t quite bear to give up…
Well said James! Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading theFrontSteps.