The Tip Post
Truth is, Lord Langhorne or Nigel in his heyday could have deftly pulled the civic levers to ensure the new Embarcadero trolley circumvented the Tip. But younger, hungrier businessmen — rapacious real estate sharpies, to be precise — had been eyeing the choice waterfront location for months, ever since it was rumored that an aging, addled heir allowed his chihuahua — the selfsame who would go on to be the heir’s heir — to “sign” all the Tip’s official documents with a blue-inked paw.
For the speculators, dethroning Nigel and seizing the Tip was like, as one of them recounted years later, “taking confectionaries from a baby.” And so, by order of the City and County of San Francisco, the Tip was condemned.
It may have seemed to some like the demise of gay life in San Francisco. In the end, of course, it was only a pause. And as the tanneries of Castro Street started to shut down or move to Pleasanton, enterprising gay and lesbian entrepreneurs seized an opportunity to migrate out of downtown, to begin building an entire gay-friendly neighborhood, of homes and taverns, theaters and shops, far from the censorious gaze of the “reform” politicians just then beginning to infest a once-pliable city government.
It wasn’t long before Nigel departed this mortal coil. And while it would be poetic to say his passing was occasioned by a broken heart caused by the loss of his beloved Tip, it was really occasioned by a reckless and unquenchably persistent appetite for opium and absinthe.
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