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In the 1960s, the area was excavated to develop the BART/MUNI subway station at Civic Center.
The Tenderloin has been a downtown residential community since shortly after the California Gold Rush in 1849.
Some said it was a reference to the neighborhood as the "soft underbelly" (analogous to the cut of meat) of the city, with allusions to vice and corruption, especially graft.
Another popular explanation, probably folklore, attributes the name to a New York City police captain, Alexander S.
Yet another story, also likely apocryphal, is that the name is a reference to the "loins" of prostitutes.
The Tenderloin borders the Mission/Market Street corridor, which follows the Spaniards' El Camino Real, which in turn traced an ancient north–south Indian trail.
The Tenderloin took its name from an older neighborhood in New York with similar characteristics.
Another version of that story says that the officers who worked in the Tenderloin received a "hazard pay" bonus for working in such a violent area, and thus were able to afford the good cut of meat.The most famous jazz club was the Black Hawk Gerry Mulligan, and other jazz greats recorded live albums for Fantasy Records in the late 1950s and early 1960s.With housing consisting almost entirely of single-room-occupancy hotel rooms, studio and one bedroom apartments, the Tenderloin historically housed single adults and couples.A sign reads "Compton's Transgender Cultural District" at the intersection of Eddy and Mason streets in the Tenderloin.Poles in the background are painted with the blue, pink, and white colors of the Transgender Pride Flag.
The low-cost vacant housing, and the proximity to Chinatown through the Stockton Street Tunnel, made the area appealing to refugees and resettlement agencies.