The middle part of Polk Street, from Broadway to Turk Streets, is more colloquially known as Polk Gulch. From the western edge of the Tenderloin and Civic Center to the western edge of Russian Hill, Polk Gulch is hemmed in by Van Ness to the west.
Polk Street has a decent amount of prostitution, drug dealing, and otherwise unsavory activity near Civic Center, and it is best to stay alert and aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
Nevertheless, there are a number of popular bars that cater to a younger, hipper crowd.
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