Folsom District Armory Tour

Folsom District Armory Tour


This historic tour of the former Folsom District honors and celebrates a neighborhood and lifestyle that was almost eclipsed during the AIDS crisis and a subsequent land grab during the 1980s. We will walk down streets that housed pioneering establishments that once proudly showcased the whims of the San Francisco leather community. bars, bathouses, sex clubs, dance clubs, hotels, barracks and dungeons, if it could be imagined, it was created.

This was also a neighborhood of everyday people, many retirees, immigrants and artists. There were mom and pop grocery stores, diners, small businesses, apartments and residence halls. Not the most glamorous neighborhood in the city but it was home to thousands of people. Both populations fought against redevelopment tooth and nail but as Hermann Justin said, “this land is too expensive to have poor people parked on it.” Mayor George Moscone fought to preserve San Francisco’s neighborhoods but when he was murdered with Harvey Milk by Dan White, Dianne Feinstein, wife of mega-developer Howard Blumm, became Mayor. The race was on to steal the land underneath people’s feet, many of those people were in the midst of battling the AIDS crisis with almost no support from the government. The land grab was on.

The waterfront redevelopment of the Embarcadero in the 1950s had previously pushed the gay population into this area in the 1960s, the incipient gay community, and the leather community in particular. From 1962 until 1982, the gay community grew and thrived throughout South of Market, most visibly along Folsom Street. This community had been active in resisting the City’s ambitious redevelopment program for the area throughout the 1970s. But as the AIDS epidemic unfolded in the 1980s, the ability of this community to stand up to downtown and City Hall was dramatically weakened. The crisis became an opportunity for the City (in the name of public health) to close bathhouses and regulate bars—businesses that had been the cornerstone of the community’s efforts to maintain a gay space in the South of Market neighborhood. We will honor these communities on this tour.

But as mentioned, this neighborhood and it’s values were almost wiped from the map but not quite. Many businesses survived and as a result of this struggle the Folsom Street Fair was born. In the the spirit of being free to express our innate sexuality we will visit the survivors of the SOMA turf wars and take you on a journey to the delights of the alternative and kink communities. We will tour the neighborhood, see the landmarks and visit not one but two adult stores. We will eat at historic Wicked Grounds and our grand finale will be at the fortress on the hill, if you a will, a tour of the studios at The Armory. This foreboding and unconquerable castle houses one of the largest adult entertainment studios in the world, specializing in entertainment for the kink community, both straight and gay. You will be a special guest of the Armory and her hospitable staff on a guided tour of the facilities, where you will be priveledged to a tour of the studios and production facilities, after hours, of course.

This is a completely unique tour and is for adults only. This is a wildy popular tour and spaces are limited so book early.

WIth each ticket sold you will receive admission to the GLBT Museum in the Castro. The volunteers there and the staff at the GLBT Archive were and are supportive of this tour and helped us in our research for this important project.

Details, Recap:

-Walking tour covering a distance of about a mile, no hills.

-Tour the historic Folsom District neighborhood.

-Two shopping opportunities

-Snacks and beverages at Wicked Grounds, included

-Tour of The Armory

-Admission to the GLBT Museum at 18th and Castro


Reservations Line: 800.595.4849 (24hrs)

Reservations Online:

More Information: 415.793.1104



The Folsom District to The Armory|Mission Dolores to The Armory


via Folsom District Armory Tour.


2 responses

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