There’s still a lot to romanticize about San Francisco as Tony Bennett did in his timeless serenade to the city where those little cable cars — in pre-pandemic days, that is — climbed half way to the stars.
Do not misunderstand. There is a lot of culture, lure, and such still in San Francisco that two dozen of Texas’ finest cities combined couldn’t hold a candle to.
But the place where Tony Bennett left his heart was an every man’s town. It had blue collar industrial jobs, was rapidly expanding as the financial center of the West and second nationally only to New York, and was a place where average working class — and middle class — Joe and Josephine could live in relative comfort and raise their families.
Today working class neighborhoods no longer exist, housing costs make Manteca’s seem like rural Alabama in comparison, the great financial institution Bank of America it gave birth to has long since fled to North Carolina, and the last pockets that housed working class San Francisco families are being gentrified so San Francisco can expand its role as a satellite to Silicon Valley.
Yes, people still save up all their money and fly Trans Global Airlines to San Francisco, USA.
And that is the point.
As San Francisco becomes only affordable year round to the elite much like Rome at its zenith, it has become the equivalent of Disneyland complete with characters roaming — and sleeping — in the streets. In fact, it is more successful than Disneyland when it comes to being a tourist trap.
San Francisco snared 25.8 million tourists in 2018 compared to Disneyland’s 18.67 million visitors.
That said San Francisco could learn a thing or two from Disneyland on how to keep its streets clean and safe.
In the coming years the firm that will be Manteca’s biggest — and most high profile — private sector employer will spend heavily in TV, radio, and Internet advertising blitzes to join Manteca at the hip with San Francisco.
When Great Wolf Resorts opens its 20th location on June 29, it is going to be officially referred to as San Francisco/Manteca.
Forget the fact Manteca is a 66-mile drive away with two mountain ranges between here and there and a rather massive puddle of water to cross. Dismiss the climate differences as well considering you can freeze your tail off in San Francisco in August while Manteca is trying to channel Death Valley with its day time highs.
That’s why as a “local”, it was strange to see the San Francisco Premium Outlets open in Livermore 44 miles away from The City by car, connecting Manteca to San Francisco might seem to defy logic.
If you consider the inordinate amount of buses before the pandemic hit that ferried international and national visitors from San Francisco to shop the Livermore outlets, you will start to see some of the logic in Great Wolf’s naming strategy. There is little doubt that visitors to San Francisco will be lured to Manteca where on a 105 degree summer day or a bone chilling 42 degree Tule fog enshrouded day so they can enjoy waterpark style fun in water that’s a pleasant 82 degrees with an 84 degree air temperature to complement it.
The indoor water park resort also will likely attract those visiting San Francisco who will also want to take in Yosemite National Park.
All that said Great Wolf hitched itself to the wrong Bay Area city.
If they were going to have a hyphened name, they should have gone with San Jose-Manteca.
Market research or an educated guess may have led them to San Francisco-Manteca, but if they were targeting their core mega-regional market it would have been San Jose-Manteca.
It’s a safe bet the bulk of the guests that will help Great Wolf flourish are in the greater San Jose Area that is at the heart of the Silicon Valley.
This is where you will find households with disposal incomes soaring higher than a California condor that include families with kids. San Francisco due to its sheer cost of living, local geography, and crammed urban style is not exactly a Mecca for young families.
San Jose is more than just one mile closer to Manteca than San Francisco. Manteca, and nearby cities such as Tracy and Lathrop, are more extension of San Jose than they ever were of San Francisco.
It may be called the San Francisco Bay Area but the heart today as well as the driving force of the economic engine is San Jose at the epicenter of the Silicon Valley formerly known as the Santa Clara Valley and not San Francisco.
Manteca’s growth as well as that of the rest of the Northern San Joaquin Valley is being driven far harder by San Jose than San Francisco.
Four of California’s 10 fastest growing cities — Manteca, Tracy, Lathrop, and Ripon — are in the South San Joaquin County with Manteca at the epicenter. And almost all of that growth is directly related to San Jose and its immediate neighboring cities.
As far as whatever marketing analysis Great Wolf may have employed in its naming process, some informal observations that have stunned me in the past few years may have given the company pause (or is that paws?) before going with Great Wolf San Francisco/Manteca.
Every time I was asked to take a grandkid’s friend visiting California from either Georgia or North Dakota to the Bay Area, they were indeed mesmerized by San Francisco.
But what really got them really excited was simply driven by tech headquarters such as Facebook, Apple, Google, and Yahoo to name a few.
Instead of a casual “cool” their eyes literally lit up and they acted as if they were passing the lone candy store on earth. That’s not an easy thing to do when you’re taking 19 to 22 year-olds who Great Wolf’s future relies on them starting families and penciling stays in at one of their indoor water park resorts.
It’s ironic, in a way, that no one is going ballistic in San Francisco about Great Wolf trading on their name.
A few years back when Stockton Metro Airport just 10 miles up the road from Great Wolf in Manteca was thinking about changing its name to San Francisco-Stockton Metro Airport you’d have thought someone had blown up the Golden Gate Bridge.
The media and elected officials bellowed their outrage of how dare San Joaquin County trade on its reputation and name as well as potentially confuse people. They also insinuated, as a lot of San Francisco elitists are prone to do, that the San Joaquin Valley that feeds them, keeps them supplied in wine, and serves as their workforce housing solution is somehow just a step above being a Third World country.
The reason for the deafening silence is simple. Great Wolf San Francisco/Manteca is going to help keep San Francisco with its 883,255 residents on the map as San Jose with its 1,009,340 residents still has room to grow.
Dionne Warwick 53 years ago got the future right.
People today want to know the way to San Jose to start a successful life, not San Francisco.
This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org