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The Tenderloin is a neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, California, in the flatlands on the southern slope of Nob Hill, situated between the Union Square shopping district to the northeast and the Civic Center office district to the southwest.It encompasses about 50 square blocks, is a large wedge/triangle in shape (point faces East), and a conservative description has it bounded on the north by Geary Street, on the east by Mason Street, on the south by Market Street and on the west by Van Ness Avenue.The northern boundary with Lower Nob Hill historically has been set at Geary Street.The terms "Tenderloin Heights" and "The Tendernob" refer to the area around the indefinite boundary between the Upper Tenderloin and Lower Nob Hill.
The Tenderloin took its name from an older neighborhood in New York with similar characteristics.
There are several explanations of how that neighborhood was named.
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.
Williams, who was overheard saying that when he was assigned to another part of the city, he could only afford to eat chuck steak on the salary he was earning, but after he was transferred to this neighborhood he was making so much money on the side soliciting bribes that now he could eat tenderloin instead.