Back in 2019 when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, I found myself sitting in a beige, fluorescent-lit conference room on 6th and Market. The man sitting across from me was pitching his new startup that would somehow manage influencers while measuring their online performance, or something. Fifteen minutes into the job interview, I still wasn’t entirely sure what he did for a living. Even more confusing, I didn’t know why I was still trying to convince him to hire me for minimum wage. It all felt so dull and rote — but little did he know that just a few years ago, this same office we were sitting in used to be an unsanctioned artist commune that hosted “acid proms,” wine-fueled Day of the Dead parties and DIY concert series.
The Studio 54 of its time, “1061,” as it was called, was a commercial space on 6th and Market frequented by now-famous punk musicians, artists and producers, all of whom now live across the U.S., Mexico and Europe following a contentious legal battle with their corporate landlords. It’s an age-old story about the clash between working artists and the rising tech elite — but it was also an experience that shaped many former tenants’ lives.
Before it was turned into a drab office building, 1061 was occupied by dozens of painters, musicians and filmmakers from the San Francisco Art Institute from 2011 to 2015. Their rooms were either small, cluttered and windowless or grand, lofty spaces that evoked Edwardian mansions. I heard that a mysterious tech mogul lived all by himself on the very top floor, but some say that was just a rumor.