In San Francisco, a Frat Invasion Transforms a National Park

In a city known for its Beat history and hippie culture, the evolution of Fort Mason - a 237-year-old military post turned national park - into a haven for frat guys and "Google Girls" is an anomaly worthy of anthropological study.
September 16, 2013, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Josh Evnin

On a recent weekend afternoon, "[y]oung men in salmon-colored shorts lounged on a picnic blanket next to heavy red coolers" on the lawn of the Great Meadow in Fort Mason, observes Nellie Bowles. "A few strung hammocks between the lawn's palm trees. Others had set up corn-hole tables, horseshoe ranges, bocce ball and a volleyball court."

The scene is apparently so common in the military post turned national park that it's earned the area a new nickname: Frat Mason. " 'Cause it's like the fratty, preppy Dolores Park,' said 24-year-old Armando Anido Jr., an investment banker who dropped in from his South of Market pad. 'It's where you find the all the frat stars, especially on a Fraturday.' "

Though an official with the National Park Service may grumble about "trash mobs" and party hats being left on the statue of the park's founder, "[t]he new residents insist that partying is only a small part of what's going on at Fort Mason," notes Bowles. "They say that the neighborhood feels like family, where residents borrow sugar from each other and troubleshoot for their startups while, yes, sometimes having margaritas."

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Published on Saturday, September 14, 2013 in San Francisco Chronicle
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