A recent Wednesday at 2:01 p.m.: Clutching the worn leather briefcase he’s carried with him through the Tenderloin for 30 years, Deleano Seymour pointed out architecture at the corner of Turk and Taylor streets to a small group of local professionals. He also told them the corner is thought to be one of the country’s most violent. His guests hung on every word.
Next, after stepping over more than a few sleeping sidewalk inhabitants, Seymour guided his curious crew through St. Anthony’s soup kitchen. Later, he showed them where, if you’re homeless, you can safely stash your belongings for up to six months. He pointed out intersections where he witnessed four murders and shared fond memories of Original Joe’s Italian restaurant, where he worked as a maintenance man for eight years until the day it burnt down.
Julie Mielich was among those on Seymour’s “A Walk on the Wild Side” tour. She said having a guide helped ease the fears of being in the gritty neighborhood. Tim Murakami agreed.
“You never hear about the history of the TL. It’s always glazed over,” he said.
Seymour, 65, was born in Chicago but has lived in the Tenderloin for more than three decades. “I’ve lived in the homeless shelters. I’ve eaten in every soup kitchen. I’ve experienced a lot of ghosts and devils in the Tenderloin,” he said.
For 15 years, he gave mini tours of the city from the front seat of the cab he drove. Two years ago he began his Tenderloin walking tour, hoping to make people more aware of the troubles facing his beloved neighborhood. The 90-minute tour is free, although Seymour eventually wants local companies to sponsor his efforts.
“This is not a business venture. It’s a love affair,” he said.