The Hawkeye

A Tale of Two Cities

San Francisco and Palo Alto Local Businesses

By Emily Sun


A mere 33 miles away, yet the tales of these two cities are quite different.

San Francisco, a city known for its diversity and cultural acceptance, faces problems spanning from homelessness to a loss of interested sightseers, as observed by various local businesses. On the other side lies Palo Alto, a hub for the more privileged, as well as being minutes away from the prestigious Stanford.

With a steadily decreasing amount of tourists, San Francisco’s local businesses have seen their sales in recent years rise and fall. Haight Street, a place known for its history of hippie culture, has been no exception.

“We used to be busy,” said Hirity, 46, the owner of the Happy Donuts shop on Upper Haight, “but we’ve had to raise prices.”

So what happened to the iconoclastic San Francisco? What happened to the city that once attracted thousands to flock in search for a better life?

It’s a simple answer – the cost of living has gone up. As a result, those who stay only face a “housing market… on fire,” according to CNN. The number of people who stop by local businesses is greatly reduced, narrowed down to a couple of regulars and tourists.

However, in spite of such incidents, local businesses like the Happy Donuts try to keep a positive view.

Hirity continues, “my (restaurant) prices are very affordable. People of lower incomes could definitely come in and have a good meal. We’re the best donut shop on the street.”

She credits San Francisco culture as the main driving force behind people who stop by her shop. For her, business comes in the form of curious sightseers who wander into Haight Street in hopes of reliving some of the old 1960 flower power age. Along the way, especially during cold mornings, people come into her shop to warm up and buy some breakfast.

“I would not move if I could. The people and culture here are hard to find somewhere else,” finishes Hirity.

On the other hand, Palo Alto houses the tech savvy citizens, and the city boasts of high education and wealth. University Avenue, one of the main streets in downtown Palo Alto, is home to many small cafés. Among these coffee shops is Bistro Maxine, a French café known for their crêpes.

“I’ve seen a lot of places go in and out of business,” says Emma Byrne, an employee at the Bistro Maxine, “but then there’s a lot of health conscious restaurants.”

Instead of housing being an issue, Palo Alto’s businesses are mainly concerned about the health aspect. From going organic to offering gluten free foods, more people are attracted to the restaurants that help their diets rather than harm. To keep generating profit, shops must keep up with the health fads that take people by storm.

“It’s Palo Alto,” Byrne said. “The area’s very attractive. We’re dealing with a lot of techy people and a very wealthy community.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.25.59 PMEmily Sun is junior attending Leland High School in San Jose, California. To her, Newsroom by the Bay is a chance to explore the many different aspects of journalism. During her free time, her hobbies include playing badminton and writing.


A Tale of Two Cities