Welcome to San Francisco

They don’t sing, “I left my heart in San Francisco,” for nothing. With approximately 815,000 residents, the city is widely recognized as one of the nation’s great meccas of culture with a melting pot of restaurants, museums, beaches, entertainment venues, and shopping scattered throughout its districts.

Yet despite being one of the biggest metropolises in the nation, it is a mere seven by seven miles of land, lying at the tip of the peninsula, between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Coast. Most residents think twice about owning a car here. A well-planned transit system makes getting around the city easy with BART, Muni Metro, taxis, and the famous Cable Cars all providing affordable options for residents and visitors.

Living in San Francisco

Boredom is not a common occurrence with a dynamic food scene, shopping at Union Square, fun music festivals at Golden Gate Park, Giants baseball games, and the city’s many famous museums and art galleries. The city is tenderly divided into 36 districts, each with their own flair.

The most well-known are: Golden Gate, Fisherman’s Wharf, Haight, Castro-Noe Valley, and Chinatown-North Beach, Nob-Russian Hill, Union Square-Financial District, Civic Center-Tenderloin, SoMa, Western Addition, The Avenues (Richmond District and Sunset District), Twin Peaks-Merced, Mission-Bernal Heights, Southeast San Francisco. Where Financial District homes are the priciest per-square-feet, averaging $1,018 per foot, Nob Hill is rated as an area that delivers the “Most House for the Money.” The city’s most exclusive areas range form Sea Cliff—a neighborhood known for Mediterranean-Style villas perched over the Pacific—to Presidio Heights, with its beautiful view homes and historic mansions.

Fun Facts

  • San Francisco was ranked No.1 on Businessweek’s “America’s 50 Best Cities” list in 2012.
  • San Francisco was named the most walkable city in the nation according to Walk Score.
  • Denim jeans were invented in San Francisco for the Gold Rush miners.
  • Irish Coffee was first created in San Francisco.

Alamo Square

Alamo Square is a subset of the Western Addition neighborhood. Its boundaries are not well-defined, but are generally considered to be Webster Street on the east, Golden Gate Avenue on the north, Divisadero Street on the west, and Oak Street on the south. It is characterized by Victorian architecture that was left largely untouched by the urban renewal projects in other parts of the Western Addition. On a clear day, the Transamerica Pyramid building and the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge can be seen from the park’s center. San Francisco’s City Hall can be seen directly down Fulton Street. A row of Victorian houses facing the park on Steiner Street, known as the painted ladies, are often shown in the foreground of panoramic pictures of the city’s downtown area.

Clarendon Heights

The Clarendon Heights neighborhood is in the central part of San Francisco, to the north of Twin Peaks and east of Mount Sutro. It stretches down to Corbett Avenue or Market Street, and Clarendon Avenue borders the north and west side.

Cow Hollow

Cow Hollow is a generally affluent neighborhood located between Russian Hill and the Presidio and bordering the Marina District on one side and Pacific Heights on the other. The land was used for cow grazing (as its name would imply) and a settlement for fishermen (the coastline was much closer to this area than it is now). The main shopping thoroughfare is Union Street, known for its restaurants, boutique shopping, health spas, and wellness centers.

Duboce Triangle

The Duboce Triangle neighborhood is located near the center of San FranciscoCalifornia just below the hilly slopes of Buena Vista Park between the neighborhoods of the Castro/Eureka Valley, the Mission District, and the Lower Haight. The area is sometimes known as Mint Hill, after the United States Mint, nearby on a steep rocky cliff overlooking the intersection of Market and Duboce streets. The neighborhood is bounded bordered by Market St., Castro St., and Duboce Avenue.

The Duboce Triangle is well served by Muni Metro, historic streetcars, and buses. Because of its location east of Buena Vista Heights and Twin Peaks, the area sees less fog than many places in San Francisco.

Duboce Park and several smaller “pocket” parks provide public green spaces, as well as lushly landscaped sidewalks and well-maintained Victorian flats and apartment buildings. These are the direct result of San Francisco’s rejection of the large-scale demolition of Victorians and their replacement with slab-like public housing that marred the Western Addition in the 1960s. The city used the federal government’s slum clearance dollars to renovate the mostly-19th century housing stock instead, and also to plant street trees, bury utility wires underground, and to widen sidewalks and narrow streets.

Downtown

The Financial District is a neighborhood in San FranciscoCalifornia, that serves as its main central business district. It is home to the city’s largest concentration of corporate headquarters, law firms, insurance companies, real estate firms, savings and loan banks, and other financial institutions. All six San Francisco Fortune 500 companies—McKessonWells FargoPG&EGapCharles Schwab, and Salesforce.com— are located in the district.

The area is marked by the cluster of high-rise towers in the triangular area east of Kearny Street, south of Washington Street, west of the Embarcadero that rings the waterfront, and north of Market Street. The city’s tallest buildings, including 555 California Street and the Transamerica Pyramid, and many other tall buildings, such as 101 California Street and 345 California Street are located there. Montgomery Street (sometimes called “Wall Street of the West“) is the traditional heart of the district.

Since the 1980s, restrictions on high-rise construction have shifted new development to the adjacent South of Market area surrounding the Transbay Transit Center. This area is sometimes called the South Financial Districtby real estate developers, or simply included as part of the Financial District itself

Mission District

The Mission District is located in east-central San Francisco. It is bordered to the east by U.S. Route 101, which forms the boundary between the eastern portion of the district, known as “Inner Mission”, and its eastern neighbor, Potrero HillSanchez Street separates the neighborhood from Eureka Valley (containing the sub-district known as “the Castro“) to the north west and Noe Valley to the south west. The part of the neighborhood from Valencia Street to Sanchez Street, north of 20th Street, is known as the “Mission Dolores” neighborhood. South of 20th Street towards 22nd Street, and between Valencia and Dolores Streets is a distinct neighborhood known as Liberty Hill. Cesar Chavez Street (formerly Army Street) is the southern border; across Cesar Chavez Street is the Bernal Heights neighborhood. North of the Mission District is the South of Market neighborhood, bordered roughly by Duboce Avenue and the elevated highway of the Central Freeway which runs above 13th Street.

The principal thoroughfare of the Mission District is Mission Street. South of the Mission District, along Mission Street, are the Excelsior and Crocker-Amazon neighborhoods, sometimes referred to as the “Outer Mission” (not to be confused with the actual Outer Mission neighborhood). The Mission District is part of San Francisco’s supervisorial districts 6, 9 and 10.

The Mission is often warmer and sunnier than other parts of San Francisco. The microclimates of San Francisco create a system by which each neighborhood can have different weather at any given time, although this phenomenon tends to be less pronounced during the winter months. The Mission’s geographical location insulates it from the fog and wind from the west. This climatic phenomenon becomes apparent to visitors who walk downhill from 24th Street in the west from Noe Valley (where clouds from Twin Peaks in the west tend to accumulate on foggy days) towards Mission Street in the east, partly because Noe Valley is on higher ground whereas the Inner Mission is at a lower elevation.

The Mission includes four recognized sub-districts. The northeastern quadrant, adjacent to Potrero Hill is known as a center for high tech startup businesses including some chic bars and restaurants. The northwest quadrant along Dolores Street is famous for Victorian mansions and the popular Dolores Park at 18th Street. Two main commercial zones, known as the Valencia corridor (Valencia St, from about 15th to 22nd) and the 24th Street corridor known as Calle 24 in the south central part of the Mission District are both very popular destinations for their restaurants, bars, galleries and street life.

Nob Hill

Nob Hill is a neighborhood of San FranciscoCalifornia that is known for the numerous luxury hotels and historic mansions, Nob Hill has historically served as a center of San Francisco’s upper class. Nob Hill is among the highest-income neighborhoods in the United States, as well as one of the most desirable and expensive real estate markets in the country.

Nob Hill is a luxury destination in San Francisco, owing to its numerous Michelin-starred restaurantsboutiquescultural institutionsart galleries, and historic landmarks. The neighborhood is named after one of San Francisco’s original “Seven Hills”.

North Beach

A neighborhood in the northeast of San Francisco adjacent to Chinatown, the Financial District, and Russian Hill. The neighborhood is San Francisco’s “Little Italy” and has historically been home to a large Italian American population. It still has many Italian restaurants, though many other ethnic groups currently live in the neighborhood. It was also the historic center of the beatnik subculture and has become one of San Francisco’s main nightlife districts as well as a residential neighborhood populated by a mix of young urban professionals, families, and Chinese immigrants.

The American Planning Association (APA) has named North Beach as one of ten “Great Neighborhoods in America”.

North Beach is bounded by the former Barbary Coast, now Jackson Square, the Financial District south of BroadwayChinatown to the southwest of Columbus below Green Street, Russian Hill to the west, Telegraph Hill to the east and Fisherman’s Wharf at Bay Street to the north.

Main intersections are Union and Columbus, the southwest corner of Washington SquareGrant Avenue and Vallejo Street.

The somewhat compact layout of the neighborhood consists of apartments, duplexes, and Victorian homes dating from the 1920s, when residents rebuilt the neighborhood from its complete destruction after the earthquake and fire of 1906.

Outer Sunset

The peaceful Outer Sunset neighborhood rests along the city’s foggy western shore, just south of expansive Golden Gate Park. A flat street grid is occupied by unassuming single-family homes and commercial stretches featuring brunch hot spots, Asian restaurants, beer bars and indie boutiques. Often cold and gusty, Ocean Beach is a major destination for surfing as well as walking and biking among sand dunes.

Pacific Heights

Pacific Heights is a neighborhood of San Francisco, California, which is known for the notable people who reside in the area. It has panoramic views of the Golden Gate BridgeSan Francisco Bay, the Palace of Fine ArtsAlcatraz, and the Presidio.

The Pacific Heights Residents Association defines the neighborhood as stretching from Union Street to Bush Street in the north–south direction and from Van Ness Avenue to Presidio Avenue in the east-west direction. As of 2017, Google Maps delineates its north–south extension more narrowly as reaching from Green Street to California Street.

In 2013, Pacific Heights was named the most expensive neighborhood in the United States. The article stated that if San Francisco’s Pacific Heights had its own zip code, it would be the most expensive place to live in the United States. The 94115 zip code includes both Pacific Heights’ “Gold Coast”, an area famous for its billionaire residents and record-breaking prices, and “The Western Addition”, an area about 20 blocks away where real estate prices are significantly lower. In 2017, Curbed SF again announced the “occasionally chic, hardly affordable, always elite Pacific Heights” as San Francisco’s most expensive neighborhood. A $40 million Pacific Heights mansion was listed as San Francisco’s most expensive home.  Later in the year, Business Insider gave a preview inside San Francisco’s most exclusive neighborhood, where old money rubs elbows with tech billionaires. In 2018, Pacific Heights continued to garner accolades and was voted as one of the 15 most prestigious residential neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Pacific Heights has also been listed among the top 10 richest neighborhoods in San Francisco.

Pacific Heights is situated on a primarily east–west oriented ridge that rises sharply from the Marina District and Cow Hollow neighborhoods to the north to a maximum height of 370 feet (110 m) above sea level. Pacific Heights features two parksLafayette and Alta Plaza. Visible to the north are the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, and Alcatraz Island. Visible to the south are Twin Peaks and the Sutro Tower.

Lower Pacific Heights refers to the area located south of California Street down to Post Street. While this area was previously considered part of the Western Addition, the new neighborhood designation became popularized by real estate agents in the early 1990s

Presidio Heights

Presidio Heights is a small, affluent neighborhood located between the Presidio and the Laurel Heights neighborhood. It is bordered by Pacific Avenue and the Presidio parklands to the north, Arguello Boulevard and the Richmond District to the west, California Street and Laurel Heights to the south, and Presidio Avenue and Pacific Heights to the east.

There are shopping districts on Sacramento Street and on California Street in the neighborhood. The Consulate-General of South Korea in San Francisco is located at 3500 Clay Street. The Consul General of India’s residence is 3435 Jackson Street.

The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco is on California Street at Presidio Avenue in Presidio Heights. The 1933 building was designed in the Mediterranean Revival Style with Art Deco details by Arthur Brown Jr..

Sea Cliff

It is adjacent to the Pacific Ocean and Baker Beach, southwest of the Presidio of San Francisco and east of Lincoln Park. Sea Cliff (sometimes spelled Seacliff) is a neighborhood in northwestern San FranciscoCalifornia. It is known for its large houses and ocean views. Sea Cliff is one of eight master-planned residence parks in San Francisco; its master plan was developed by landscape architect Mark Daniels

SOMA

SoMa, or South of Market, is a vast, warehouse-filled district. It encompasses Mission Bay and South Beach, where the Giants play baseball at waterfront AT&T Park. Surrounding Yerba Buena Gardens is an arts center, sleek convention complex Moscone Center and several museums, including the acclaimed San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). The area is dotted with upscale dining options and high-energy nightclubs.

St. Francis Wood

St. Francis Wood is an affluent residential neighborhood located in southwestern San FranciscoCalifornia, south of the West Portal neighborhood and west of Mount Davidson. St. Francis Wood had a population of 1,228 and a median household income of $144,719 in 2013. Characterized by family homes on spacious lots (by San Francisco standards), St. Francis Wood has no visible businesses and has a correspondingly low profile compared to similar wealthy neighborhoods such as the Marina District and Pacific Heights. St. Francis Wood is one of eight master-planned residence parks in San Francisco

Sunset District

The Sunset District is a neighborhood located in the west-central area of San FranciscoCaliforniaUnited States. It is the largest neighborhood in the West Of Twin Peaks Neighborhoods in San Francisco.

The Sunset District is the largest neighborhood within the city and county of San Francisco, and with a population of over 85,000 it is also the most populous. Golden Gate Park forms the neighborhood’s northern border, and the Pacific Ocean (or, more specifically, the long, flat strand of beach known as Ocean Beach) forms its western border. The Sunset District’s southern and eastern borders are not as clearly defined, but there is a general consensus that the neighborhood extends no farther south than Sigmund Stern Grove and Sloat Boulevard and no farther east than Stanyan Street (just east of the Parnassus campus of the University of California, San Francisco) and Laguna Honda Hospital. Prior to the residential and commercial development of the Sunset District, much of the area was covered by sand dunes and was originally referred to by 19th century San Franciscans as the “Outside Lands.”

The Sunset District and the neighboring Richmond District (on the north side of Golden Gate Park) are often collectively known as The Avenues, because the majority of both neighborhoods are spanned by numbered north-south avenues. When the city was originally laid out, the avenues were numbered from 1st to 49th, and the east-west streets were lettered A to X. In 1909, to reduce confusion for mail carriers, the east-west streets and 1st Avenue and 49th Avenue were renamed. The east-west streets were named in ascending alphabetical order in a southward direction after prominent 19th-century American politicians, military leaders, or explorers; 19th-century Mexican landowners; and Spanish conquistadors. 1st Avenue was renamed Arguello Boulevard, and 49th Avenue was renamed La Playa Street (Spanish for “the beach”).

Today, the first numbered avenue is 2nd Avenue, starting one block west of Arguello Boulevard, and the last is 48th Avenue near Ocean Beach. The avenue numbers increase incrementally, with one exception: what would be 13th Avenue is known as Funston Avenue, named after Frederick Funston, a U.S. Army general famous for his exploits during the Spanish–American War and Philippine–American War, and for directing the U.S. Armyresponse to the 1906 earthquake.

The east-west streets in the Sunset appear mostly in alphabetical order. These streets are: Lincoln Way (bordering the south side of Golden Gate Park), Hugo (from Arguello to 7th Avenue only), Irving, Judah, Kirkham, LawtonMoragaNoriegaOrtegaPacheco, Quintara, Rivera, Santiago, TaravalUlloaVicenteWawonaYorba, and Sloat Boulevard. “X” was originally proposed to be Xavier, but was changed to Yorba due to a pronunciation controversy.

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