Sometimes paradise springs up in the unlikeliest of places. Cohen  Alley in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district is one such place.
“Syringes and human feces littered the ground,” writes Next American City’s Johanna Hoffman, describing Cohen Alley in the 1980s. “[P]rostitutes used the spot to turn tricks. For local contractors, it was a convenient, if illegal, dumping ground.”
Twentysome years later, the 40-foot-wide space hidden between  two busy streets looks drastically different. Bright murals painted by  local artists decorate the buildings that straddle the alley. Small  tables are set out for impromptu conversations. Soft warmth emanates  from a small, homemade clay oven. A three-story redwood tree would  normally seem out of place in the city—but blends perfectly into the  environment of Cohen. The area is so lushly precious it even earned a  new name: the Tenderloin National Forest.
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Sometimes paradise springs up in the unlikeliest of places. Cohen Alley in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district is one such place.

“Syringes and human feces littered the ground,” writes Next American City’s Johanna Hoffman, describing Cohen Alley in the 1980s. “[P]rostitutes used the spot to turn tricks. For local contractors, it was a convenient, if illegal, dumping ground.”

Twentysome years later, the 40-foot-wide space hidden between two busy streets looks drastically different. Bright murals painted by local artists decorate the buildings that straddle the alley. Small tables are set out for impromptu conversations. Soft warmth emanates from a small, homemade clay oven. A three-story redwood tree would normally seem out of place in the city—but blends perfectly into the environment of Cohen. The area is so lushly precious it even earned a new name: the Tenderloin National Forest.

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