Telegraph Hill- Home to San Fran’s Little Italy

In the early to mid 1800s Telegraph Hill was known as “Goat Hill” and was the neighborhood of choice for many Irish immigrants. But this changed in 1849 with the construction of a marine telegraph in the mid 1800s used to signal to ships entering the Golden gate. Eventually the tower became obsolete and Coit Tower was built in its place in the 30s, which provides a wonderful observation deck for the City. Telegraph Hill is also an extension of the historic Italian neighborhood extending south from North Beach. Little Italy is still alive here with its heart located at Grant and Green.  Telegraph Hill also became a destination for poets and bohemian intellectuals in the 1920s creating a very West Village esh vibe.

Telegraph Hill excels at great transit access and proximity to Downtown and other thriving districts, excellent walkable schools, great retail & cultural amenities, and high % of rent control units helping create a more economically diverse neighborhood than most in San Fran. Main areas I’d like to see the district improve is offering more affordable 3 & 4 bedrooms conducive to family households, better tree canopy, and additional dedicated bike lanes. 

Click here to view my Telegraph Hill album on Flickr


* Excellent public transit access and proximity to Downtown (especially the financial district).
* This is one of the most economically diverse parts of the City where the medium household income is just shy of 70K. Also great racial diversity as well.
* Medium rents are about the City’s average and 70% of units are rent controlled.
* Some quality recreational spaces, but not as spectacular as most San Fran districts.
* Culturally plenty of great restaurants, bars, and cafes (especially Italian ones), a couple of local theaters & several live music venues &  night clubs, several local museums and the Science Center. Telegraph Hill also has great access to the cultural amenities of the Financial District, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf.
* Neighborhood assets include many ethnic grocerias, a Safeway Grocery Store, several drug stores, a couple libraries, a local post office, plenty of boutiques and creative retail (esp. along Grant Ave), a couple bookstores, gyms, and plenty of dessert shops.
* By all measures this is a very safe district.
* Several well rated schools within the district but not as many as surrounding neighborhoods.
* Great vibrancy along Broadway and Grant but much less so on the hilly part of the district.
* Several landmarks and vertical hills that help the district with imageability.
* Excellent urban massing. Only a handful of surface parking lots along the Embarcadero.


* A very hilly district, even for San Fran, standards makes walkability a bit more challenging. A good amount of modern ADA curb ramps missing.
* Because the neighborhood was mostly in the 1906 fire, buildings are a bit newer and plainer. Because of its proximity to the Financial District many plain modern 1970s & 1980s building were built, but generally with good urban form.
* Bike infrastructure are concentrated along the edges of the district.
* Only about a quarter of all households are families.
* For sale housing is certainly expense but unlike most San Fran districts some studios & 1-bedrooms sell around 500K/600K. Most 1-bedrooms sell around 1 M, 2-bedrooms generally 1-2 M, 3-bedrooms around 3 M.
* 1-bedroom rentals lease from 2-3K, 2-bedrooms 2-4.5K. There are very few 3 -bedroom rentals available.
* Only a handful of churches.
* Good but not great tree canopy.

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