Take the #24 MUNI bus on Castro Street just outside Castro MUNI Station or step on the J-Church trolley at Church at Market Streets and within less than five minutes you are in Noe Valley.
Adjacent to The Castro or as some old-timers still refer to it, Eureka Valley, Noe Valley is like a small town. 24th Street is its main corridor with lots of side streets like Dorland and Elizabeth Street that add to Noe Valley’s charm. Yet perhaps what is most important to Noe Valley is its merchants. Long-time merchants like Sam Salameh provide stability to the neighborhood. When he talked to filmmaker Kate Imbach recently, he mentioned how important it is to be “a good listener.” For the past 17 years Salameh has been the proprietor of Good News magazine and newspaper shop on 24th Street. It has close to 2,000 titles from all over the world.
The historic F-line trolley crosses 24th Street at Church in Noe Valley on its way to The Castro District.
Certainly the increase of the Internet and the digital revolution has made an impact on news and magazine shops, just like it has to bookstores. But it is that effort to reach out to as many people as possible by carrying as many titles as possible that customers appreciate.
This reporter stopped by the shop on Feb 4, yet only his son Samir Salameh was there. “My dad is here every day, in the afternoons and stays until 9.” A teacher, scholar, and world-traveler, Salameh like so many made the neighborhood his home. His son Samir has been working part-time at the shop for the past year or so. An interior architectural designer, Samir likes helping his father. “He is known as ‘The Mayor of Noe Valley’ and I think it is because he loves the people,” said Samir.
“I love the neighborhood,” he added. Samir lives in Noe Valley not far from the shop and like his father, appreciates the eclectic mix of people. Samir enjoys the friendliness and engaging aspects of neighborhood. For example, there is a stained glass shop “Cradle of The Sun” which displays some of the most exquisite designs framed in glass.
"Cradle of The Sun" is one of the unique and long-standing shops on 24th Street, that like Good News news and magazine shop, helps anchor the community and make it a great place to live.
“Wholly Bagel” serves fresh bagels each morning, and while some long-time residents like Steve Vacarro, lament the loss of Noe Valley Pizza and Italian Restaurant to La Boulange, Martha and Brothers Coffee and David’s Tea, right next-door, provide a local alternative to the popular franchise.
Not as rowdy perhaps as The Castro, Noe Valley has a more easy-going atmosphere, an ideal spot to raise a family. Samir noted that he has seen the neighborhood change, over the years. "But that has been in a good way, I think," he said.
Noe Valley Pizza and Italian Restaurant is gone, much to the disappointment of residents, but Haystack Pizza, in view when sitting in front of Martha & Brothers Coffee, is still in the neighborhood, testimony to the long-standing presence of many locally owned shops along 24th Street.
This is why for years, even before the area started going “upscale” young couples sought out Noe Valley. Just ask Liz and Dana Brock, they settled in Noe Valley in the early 1980’s. But moved to Central California when their two sons reached high school age. “They did not want to leave," said Dorothy Brock, their grandmother. "But they wanted their sons to attend a good public high school; and in San Francisco that is difficult,” she said by phone from Cayucos – just outside San Luis Obispo. It has been a while since they left but the Brock Family speak fondly, still of the area.
Even as new restaurants pop up, to accommodate the changing trends, most of the eatery spots have been there on 24th Street a long time.
And, it is largely due in part to stable establishments along 24th Street like Good News magazine and newspaper shop. “Mornings are the busiest time, said Samir, for obvious reasons, what goes well with a cup of coffee? The morning paper.” No sooner had he said that, when two customers walked in. One woman wanted the New York Times and the other Deb, simply wanted to stop by to say “hi” and to get a treat for her dog Ruby. “I love this place and I love this neighborhood,” said Deb, (she did not want to give her last name). “Just about every merchant around here gives out treats and fresh water to dogs.
Long-time resident Deb likes to stop by to get a treat for her dog, Ruby. "I love this place and this neighborhood, almost all the shops around here give out treats and fresh water to dogs."
Amid the scores of couples with baby strollers are people walking with their dogs. The mood of the area is relaxed, leisurely, even when foggy. Samir appreciates that the most and when people stop by, like his father, he too makes time to chat. “Perhaps at some point, magazines and newspapers will fade away,” said Samir. He noted that there is still a loyal following of print media. “And, there is so much that is still not on line, he said, like many of the international titles and fashion periodicals.” “And, various media, home and design and graphic art publications too,” he said. Samir surmised that another reason why print media has not gone away entirely is because, “it’s tangible, he said, tactile, something people can grasp in hand, not just on a screen.”
Good News is located at 3920 – 24th Street (near Sanchez Street) is open seven days a week. Call 415-821-3694 for details.