Fisherman’s Wharf- San Fran’s most touristy district

San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf gets its name and characteristics from the city’s early days of the mid to late 1800s when Italian immigrant fishermen came to the city to take advantage of the influx of population due to the gold rush. Most of the Italian immigrant fishermen settled in the North Beach/Telegraph Hill area close to the wharf. The character of Fisherman’s Wharf changed significantly in the 1970s & 1980s as the area diversified and became a major tourist destination. This also brought a significant amount new blocky buildings to replace the district’s older stock. Despite this transition, Fisherman’s Wharf remains an active wharf.

From an urban perspective the district is a bit unique due to its active wharf and strong tourism. Compared to the rest of San Fran population is pretty limited. About 1/2 of the district has been redeveloped for bland 70s/80s buildings, albeit generally with good urban form. The neighborhood also has pretty limited tree canopy. But there are still many positives to the living in the Fisherman’s Wharf including excellent public transit access, good bike infrastructure, quality schools nearby, several excellent parks, tons of restaurants & cafes, and plenty of retail amenities.

Click here to view my Fisherman’s Wharf Flickr Page


* Excellent Public Transit Access and great access to Dwtn and the financial district.
* Good bike infrastructure with a couple good dedicated bike paths and lots of bike stations.
* Very good diversity overall. Excellent economic diversity, good racial diversity, and decent generational diversity.
* About 65% of all units are rental controlled.
* No schools directly within district but several highly rated public schools within walking district in adjacent districts.
* Several nice parks in the Fisherman’s Wharf including: Russian Hill Park, Maritime Park, Golden Gate Nat. Park Conservatory, and a couple smaller parks.
* High pedestrian traffic thanks to all the tourist.
* Culturally lots of restaurants, but mostly seafood ones or ones catering to tourist, some bars & breweries, plenty of cafes, and tons of dessert joins including Ghirardelli’s. Other cultural assets include plenty of art galleries and tons of museums catering to the strong tourism.
* Retail amenities include: lots of clothing stores, boutiques, gift stores catering to tourism, lots of unique retail, plenty of banks, a Trader Joe’s & Safeway, several drug stores, and a handful of gyms.


* One of the least dense districts in San Franc. But this has a lot to do with the fact that Fisherman’s Wharf is more of a tourist destination than neighborhood to live.
* Modern architecture has decent urban form but generally bland or ugly 1970s/1980s design. Much of it is also parking lots.
* Historic architecture is pretty limited to the Western section of the district. Its good where it exist.
* For sale product is pretty limited but sales comps show district is a tad cheaper than surrounding areas. 1- bedrooms sales btwn 750K-1M, 2-bedrooms in the low 1 Millions, and 3-bedrooms in the high 1 Ms.
* Rental product also pretty limited. 1-bedrooms lease in the mid-high $2,000s, 2-3 bedrooms anywhere between high 3Ks and 7K.
* Medium rent at $2,500 is pretty high compared to City average.
* Generally good urban form but a fair amount of surface parking and industrial uses near the wharf.
* Tree canopy still good but less than other San Fran Districts.
* District is well known Nationally but not terribly desirable by locals.
* Really no theaters or live music in the district.
* No libraries or post office within the District but still nearby. Very few churches here nor walkable hospitals.
* Night live is good but sup-bar compared to most San Fran districts.

San Fran’s Marina District- a lovely district with pastel colors and unique 1920s architecture

Prior to the 1906 earthquake consisted the Marina District consisted of bay shallows, tidal pools, sand dunes, and marshland and some limited development. This was all destroyed in the earthquake thanks to the districts sandy foundation and the area was completed redeveloped in the 1910s & 1920s. More density occurred with the completion of the nearby Golden Gate Bridge and widening of  Lombard Street. Sadly since much of the Marina is built on a former landfill, the district is very susceptible to soil liquefaction during strong earthquakes. This resulted in extensive damage during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Demographically the Marina District shifted from mostly middle class families to young professionals in the 1980s & 1990s. The neighborhood is also one of San Francisco’s “Whitest” neighborhoods. The Marina District has a very unique set of architecture styles and pastel coloring unique from other parts of San Francisco. From an urban perspective this is a very walkable and comfortable urban district. The urban business district along Chestnut Street is wonderful one is still within walking district to Cow Hollow’s Fillmore St. and Union Street along with Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. The Marina District also contains excellent public schools, great park amenities, solid public transit, good bike infrastructure, and excellent cultural amenities. Areas to improve upon include redeveloping some auto centric spots along Lombard St., limited economic and generational diversity, extremely expensive for sale housing, and a tree canopy that is somewhat wanting (especially for San Fran standards).

Click here to view the Marina District on my Flickr Page


* High quality architecture but not as nice as older parts of the City. Very unique in its pastel color palette and Spanish revival styling.
* ADA infrastructure is overall quite excellent. Several residential intersections are missing modern ADA curb infrastructure.
* Excellent neighborhood commer. district along Chestnut and several side streets.
* Good bike infrastructure with a couple dedicated bike lanes and numerous bike stations.
* Decent racial diversity.
* 75% of the total residential units are rent controlled, a very high Pct for the City.
* Several well rated schools within the District or nearby. Public education is especially good here.
* Excellent park amenities including parks like the Presidio, Golden Gate Nat. Park Conservancy and  Marine Time Nat. Plenty of medium sized parks too (e.g. Little Marina Green, the Marinas, Palace of Fine Arts, and Moscone Park
* Culturally the Marina District hosts a great array of movie, community, and performing arts theaters, plenty of bars, restaurants & cafes, several night clubs, and a  few art galleries. This district also hosts the Marina District (Golden Gate Nat. Conservatory, Museo Italo, & Maritime Museum) and the Presidio of San Francisco along with a few other local museums.
* Great neighborhood amenities including a Safeway, a couple smaller independent grocerias, a butcher shop, several drug stores, plenty of banks, lots of boutiques/clothing stores, several home goods shops, a couple book stores, and tons of gyms & fitness centers and dessert places. Marina district also offers convenience access to a public library, 2 post offices and is walkable to all the biz districts in Cow Hollow and Ghirardelli Square.


* Some spots of more auto centric development along Lombard St. and to a lesser extent Van Ness
* The northwest corner of Marina District has good but not excellent mass transit access.
* Fair economic diversity and very limited generational diversity as only 17% of households have kids.
* Few public housing developments here and the medium rent ($2,370) is high compared to the City average.
* Studios start in the low $2,000s, 1-beds anywhere btwn the mid 2Ks and 4K, 2 & 3-beds anywhere btwn 3K-5K.
* For sale housing is expensive with 1-bedrooms generally selling btwn 700K and 1.3 M.  2-bedroom condos range from 1-2.4 M. 3-bedrooms generally mid 2 M-4 M. 4-Bedrooms are generally 2-5M.
* For San Fran standards, tree canopy is a bit sparse.
* Not walkable to any hospital.
* Modern in-fill is pretty limited but generally urban.
* Not as mixed use as other parts of San Fran but still very good,

Cow Hollow- Another great San Fran District

Not surprisingly Cow Hollow was named after its original use as a cow pasture. The district also began as a settlement for fishermen with its relatively close location to Fisherman’s Wharf. Many include Cow Hollow with its larger neighbors the Marina District or Pacific Heights, but Cow Hollow can certainly stand on its own as a separate district as it hosts its own business district along Union and part of Fillmore St. 

Being outside the burn area, Cow Hollow hosts lots of ornate late 19th century Victorian architecture especially on its eastern half. From an urban perspective the district is highly walkable with many retail and cultural amenities, has great tree canopy, and is very safe. Its also close to several other urban business districts including Chesnutt St., Polk St., and Fillmore St. But the district is more expensive than most San Fran districts with average rents around $2,500 even with a high pct. of rental controlled units. For sale options start just under 1 million. Economic and generational diversity also isn’t great. There are also some wholes in the urban fabric along Lombard St. and Van Ness Ave.

Click here to view my Cow Hollow Album on Flickr


* Excellent Historic architecture. District was unaffected by the 1906 fire.
*About 65-70% of all units are rent controlled.
* Only a couple schools within Cow Hollow but several excellent schools in neighboring Marina District and Pacific Heights that are still very walkable.
* Solid tree canopy.
* Only a handful of small parks within Cow Hollow but the Presidio is on the districts western edge and several recreational amenities in the Marina District are nearby.
* Cultural amenities include plenty  of restaurants, bars, and cafes, night clubs, two local theaters, several art galleries, the Presidio of San Francisco (a National Park Site), and a historic house. The waterfront cultural amenities of the Marina District (Golden Gate Nat. Conservatory, Museo Italo, & Maritime Museum are within walking distance).
* Several small to museum sized groceries but not major supermarket within the district. Other amenities include a coupe drug stores, lots of boutiques and local creative stores esp. along Fillmore and Union; a hardware store, plenty of banks, several florists,  dessert shops, many fitness outfits, and a local post office and library. Cow Hollow is also very close to all the retail amenities in Marina District’s Chesnutt St.
* A very safe district.


* Urban form is generally excellent in the biz districts (Filmore & Union) but some auto centric spots especially along Lombard and some on Van Ness.
* Good distribution of bike stations but no dedicated bikes lanes in the district.
* Racial diversity is decent but not great economic and generational diversity.
* Even with a high pct of rent controlled units, medium rent is still very high in the low $3,000s.
* Studios start in the low $2,000s, 1-beds anywhere btwn the mid 2Ks and 5K, 2 & 3-beds anywhere btwn 4K-6K.
* For sale housing is expensive with 1-bedrooms generally selling around 1 M.  2-bedroom condos range from 1-2.5 M. 3-bedrooms generally mid 2 M-5 M. 4-Bedrooms can get very expensive.
* Modern in-fill is pretty limited but generally urban

Pacific Heights- One of San Franc’s most exclusive districts

Pacific Heights is blessed with one of the best panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay, the Palace of Fine Arts, Alcatraz, and the Presidio sitting above its adjacent districts.  The neighborhood was first developed in the 1870s with small Victorian-inspired single family homes built. Starting around the beginning of the 20th century, and especially after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many sf homes were replaced with period homes and eventually apartment buildings (especially near Van Ness). Pacific Heights has always been a higher-end district and never experienced a prolonged period of disinvestment. In 2013, Pacific Heights was named the most expensive neighborhood in the United States. Pacific Heights continues to have a high level of prestige in San Fran.

Affordability is obviously a major issue in Pacific Heights, but the district has a surprisingly high pct of rental controlled units (65%). Purchasing a home here is not in reach for many with small condos starting in the 600Ks. Urban strengths for the district include its lovely hilltop parks (Alta Plaza & Lafayette), strong walkability, numerous small business and neighborhood retail amenities especially along Fillmore St,  numerous high quality schools, and safety.

Other areas for improvement in Pacific Heights include a need for more dedicated bike lanes and more economic and generational diversity among its population. Very few family households reside here.

Click here to view my Pacific Heights album on Flickr


* Excellent connectivity. And convenient access to Downtown with quality transit service.
* Pretty good racial diversity.
* About 65% of all housing units are rent controlled. Only a couple public housing projects here however.
* Park amenities include two lovely medium sized parks ( Alta Plaza and Lafayette) with gorgeous views of the City and the SE corner of the expansive but rather inaccessible Presidio Park. No smaller pocket parks.
* A more eclectic array of historic architecture mixing early and more mid 20th century design but still excellent.
* Culturally amenities are good but less than most San Fran districts. There are a good number of diverse restaurants, cafes, and bars. Also several nice museums (i.e. Recording SF Museums, Haas-Lilienthal House, and Academy of Art Auto; plenty of historic homes, and the historic Vogue Theater.
* Retail wise there are a great array of small businesses including every imaginable neighborhood serving store, tons of boutiques, home good stores, and salons,  a Whole Foods & several medium sized grocers, a Staples, a couple drug stores, several dessert & pastries shops,  a public library, and a major hospital, and a good # of churches.
* A very safe district.
* Strong concentration of highly rated walkable schools in Pacific Heights. Large concentration of Catholic private schools although still a good # of public.
* Excellent urban form except for a couple auto centric spots along Van Ness and California Ave.
* One of San Frans most expensive districts help Pacific Heights garner a lot of buzz.


* Still very high density (25Kper sq mile) but lower for San Fran standards.
* Good distribution of bike stations but no dedicated bikes lanes in the district.
* Limited economic and generational diversity.
* For sale housing is expensive but some studios available in the 600Ks & 700Ks. 1-bedrooms start in the 800Ks & 900Ks  but most sell in the low-mid 1 Millions. 2-bedroom condos range from 1-3 M. 3-bedrooms generally mid 1 M-3 M but plenty of large options selling in the 4 & 5 Ms. 4-Bedrooms start at 3 M and up to 8 M.
* Medium rent is $2,400, expensive even for San Fran standards. Studios for least start in the high $1,000s, 1-beds anywhere btwn the low 2Ks and 5K, 2 & 3-beds anywhere from 3K-7K.
* Modern in-fill is a bit limited but what does exist is generally aesthetically pleasing and quality urban form.

Lower Pacific Heights- Home to San Fran’s Japantown

Lower Pacific Heights was historically known as Upper Fillmore and a part of the Western Addition. This follows a common trend in America cities where neighborhoods are further subdivided when they gentrify and are rebranded. Lower Pacific Heights was a middle-class district for much of its history but became much wealthier in the 1980s and 1990s. This was the time when “Upper Fillmore” fell out of favor in exchange for “Lower Pacific Heights”. I don’t sense the district ever had a major period of disinvestment.

Japantown is a small sub-district within Lower Pacific Heights adjacent to the northern edge of the Fillmore District. Japanese immigrants began moving into the area following the 1906 earthquake (along with the Fillmore District). By World War II, the neighborhood was one of the largest Japanese enclaves outside Japan and took on an appearance similar to the Ginza district in Tokyo. WWII created a bit of a Japanese diaspora as Japanese families following several years of internment camps often resettled in other parts of San Fran and its suburbs. But the district retained its Japanese identity, especially as a center of Japanese shopping and culture. The district’s focal point, the Japan Center, was opened in 1968 and is the site of three Japanese-oriented shopping centers. This shopping center still remains a vibrant, dense collection of Japanese shops and is one of the most interesting parts of the City.

Lower Pacific Heights is a high quality urban district in line with central San Fran neighborhoods. It has a couple of urban deficiencies that lead to a lower score than other surrounding districts, namely, limited dedicated bike lanes, few schools within the neighborhood boundaries, okay park amenities, and only 18% of households as family households. The neighborhood’s strengths are Japantown and a great array of cultural and neighborhood retail amenities. 

Click here to view my Japantown album and here Lower Pacific Heights


* Quality historic architecture mixing late 19th century Italianate and Victorian with 20s apartment bldgs. The modern architecture design wise isn’t super inspiring but generally very good urban form. This is concentrated along Geary Blvd and in Japantown.
* Urban massing is overall very good but some autocentric spots along Ghery Blvd and Presidio Ave.
* Great access to Downtown and a highly walkable district. 
* About 55% of all units are rent controlled but also several public housing bldgs in the district. Medium rent is $2,077, slightly higher than the City’s median.
* Great racial diversity with a large Asian (Japanese) population here. Decent economic diversity.
* By all appearances, this is a very safe district.
* Cultural amenities include a great array of restaurants, bars, and cafes particularly in Japantown. There are also a handful or art galleries, two movie theaters in Japantown, the Vogue historic theater, the Regency Ballroom, and several live music venues and clubs.
* Great retail options concentrated in Japantown, many of them very unique cultural stores but also plenty of general retail options (i.e. hardware, grocerias, boutiques, and medical offices). Retail assets throughout the Lower Pacific Hghts include: several major supermarkets (i.e. Trader Joe’s, Safeway, and Wholefoods), plenty of grocerias, a target, several drug stores, 4 book stores, great array of boutiques & creative stores along Fillmore, plenty of banks, a couple antique stores, a hardware store, and plenty of dessert places. 2 hospitals within are near the district and decent array of churches.
* Vibrancy is great esp. in Japantown. 


* Good but not great bike infrastructure. 2 dedicated lanes in the district and good array of dedicated bike stations.
* 1-bedrooms lease in the mid 2Ks-low 3Ks, 2 bedrooms in the 3Ks & 4Ks, 3-bedrooms 4K-5K.
* Cheapest for sale units are some 1-bedroom condos selling btwn 650K-900K. Plenty of 1-bedrooms selling in the low 1 Millions. 2-bedrooms sell for anywhere btwn 800K-mid 1 Millions, 3bedrooms low 1 Ms to 3M. Larger & higher end produce selling in the 3 & 4 Ms.
* Poor generational diversity. Only 18% of households are families.
* Compared to most San Fran. Districts Park amenities are pretty limited. Lower Pacific Heights does have a great recreation decenter and a handful of small parks and plazas. Several medium sized parks just outside the district borders.
* Only a few schools within the district but plenty of good ones in surrounding districts.

Fillmore District- San Fran’s historic African American District

I added the small Alamo Square District into this Fillmore District review. That means the southwest corner extends down to Hayes St where the rest of the southern border is Grove Street.

The Fillmore District began to rise to prominence after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake being unaffected by  the large fires that ensued. It quickly became a major commercial and cultural centers of the city. The early 20th century also ushered in a large influx of diverse populations. The Fillmore District began to house large numbers of African Americans, Japanese and Jews. African Americans in particular arrived in numbers after the Japanese internment of 1942 where many unoccupied homes and businesses were left open. Almost immediately Fillmore became a  thriving African American district known for having the largest jazz scene on the west coast. Sadly this did not last long as large swaths of the district were slated for urban renewal in the late 1960s and 1970s. All in all  28 city blocks were demolished and 8,000 people displaced. While many of the rebuilt structures were bland mid-century design, the overall feel of the district fortunately remained very urban and dense. From an urban design perspective, this is probably one of the better urban renewal efforts in the Country and has created a modern feeling Asian district. The neighborhood still struggled with crime and safety issues as the vast majority of new housing built was concentrated poverty. The untouched sections of the district gentrified first (especially near Alamo Park and western half of Golden Gate Avenue) and by the 2010s renovation  had reached most parts of Fillmore.

While much of the neighborhood is mixed use, Divisadora (near Alamo Square) and Fillmore Street (near Gearby Blvd) are the main business districts. This section of Fillmore still hosts a major Asian influence and feels, in many ways, like an extension of Japantown. Fillmore also hosts several major theaters along Van Ness Ave hosting the San Francisco Opera, Symphony, and Ballet. While there are certainly many downsides to the awful urban renewal efforts of the 60s and 70s, the massive affordable housing construction that resulted created one of the most racially and ethnically diverse district in San Fran. About 80% of its units are either rent controlled or subsidized. Hopefully the more autocentric structures that came out of the urban renewal efforts will be replaced with better urban oriented buildings. Fillmore is overall a very walkable district with good retail and cultural amenities, great transit access, and a highly convenient location close to Downtown.  

Click here to view my Fillmore Album on Flickr


* Excellent ADA infrastructure. Only a handful of intersections without modern ADA curbs.
* Quality public transit and great access to Downtown. Also good bike land infrastructure via several dedicated bike lanes and dense bike station coverage.
* One of the most racially and economically diverse districts in San Fran
* Very high pct of affordability here. 43% of all units are rent controlled but around 85% of all units are affordable. Fillmore was a major urban renewal site with significant amounts of aff. hsg concentrated here. Medium rent here is only $1,300, way below the City average.
* Very good recreational amenities, but the parks themselves generally are not as spectacular as most in San Fran (with the exception of Alamo Square where the painted ladies are located). Parks are more modern.
* Great tree canopy.
* Good number and diversity  of pretty well ranked schools, all of them of course walkable.
* Culturally a good array of restaurants, bars, & cafes but much less than other parts of San Fran. Other cultural assets include many theaters (i.e. modern symphony hall, San Fran Opera, Herbst Performing Arts Theater, a community theater and the Fillmore Music Theater) and two major cineplexes.
* Retail amenities include: a supermarket, several ethnic grocerias and health food stores, a couple drug stores; lots of salons, banks, and common neighborhood amenities. Boutiques and more creative stores are less common here than higher end San Fran districts. The many Japanese restaurants and stores are located just north of the Fillmore District in Japantown. The vibrant Hayes Valley is located just to the south.


* For a neighborhood that hosts the painted ladies its surprisingly that about 75% of the district is modern. Only areas around Alamo Square and Divisadero are historic.
* Aesthetically the modern architecture can be bland and sometimes distasteful, but overall the form is very good. Reminds one of Asia.
* Limited generational diversity.
* While not much of it market rents are a bit cheaper than surrounding districts: * Studios lease around 2K, 1-bedrooms $2,000s, 2 bedrooms 2 & 3 Ks. 3-bedrooms 3K-5K.
* For sale a bit limited as so much product is afford. rentals. Fortunately a decent # of1 bed and 2 bed condos selling between 200-500K. Some 3-bedrooms selling btwn 500-800K. Plenty of produce selling btwn 800K-1.5M depending on size & condition.
* Fillmore use to be a higher crime are but seems to be much improved since 2010. Still some lingering safety issues, but much of it may now be perceived.
* Only a handful of art galleries and a couple local museums.
* Massing is generally pretty good but plenty of modern apartment bldgs with surface parking.
* Good vibrancy but much less than other San Fran districts thanks to its modernist design.
* Will crime is way down the district still struggles from image issues.

Haight-Ashbury- Home to San Fran’s Hippo Movement

The famed Haight-Ashbury was one of the few neighborhoods spared from the 1906  fires allowing its gorgeous Edwardian and Victorian houses to survive. But that doesn’t mean the neighborhood didn’t have its struggles. WWII brought about a sub diving of its large homes into apartments and the 50s a general decline from suburbanization. This left many buildings vacant or in decline and interestingly paved the way for the Beats allured by its cheap rent to move in during the 60s after being displaced from North Beach. This helped create a culture in Haight-Ashbury conducive to the 60s Hippie Movement and home of the Summer of Love in 1967. This alternative culture has remained in the neighborhood but most notably along Haight Avenue the business district. The late 70s and 80s brought revitalization and gentrification to the wider neighborhood and homes here are as expensive as anywhere else in San Francisco.

The smaller Cole Valley district to the SW is come to a smaller but attractive business district along Cole Street, newer architecture from the 1900s-1940s, and became a major destination for white collar dot-commers during the late 1990s. The area is also home to many  young University of California (San Francisco) students and staff.

Both Cole Valley and Haight-Ashbury are dense, highly walkable neighborhoods with close proximity to many parks (including Golden Gate) and cultural amenities. Compared to much of San Francisco, biking infrastructure and access to schools is a bit limited here. But similar to most of the City, housing is very expensive. At least 70% of all units are rent controlled. 

Click here to view my Haight-Ashbury Album on Flickr


* Great public transit service and access to Downtown San Francisco.
* Good racial diversity.
* About 70% of units are rent controlled in the district.
* Great park access here between some of San Fran’s finest parks (i.e. Golden Gate, Buena Vista Park, Mt Sutro, Corona Heights Park, and the Panhandle). Also a handful of smaller parks.
* Excellent tree canopy.
* Some excellent historic architecture, especially the colorful Victorians in Haight Ashbury. Homes in Cole Valley are a bit newer and less ornate but still very attractive.
* Excellent urban form and streetscaping.
* Cultural amenities include a good array of restaurants, bars, and cafes, and several live music venues. Great access to several wonderful museums in Golden Gate Park (de Young Art Museum, Botanical Garden, Academy of Sciences, Conservatory of Flowers, & Japanese Tea Garden). Several “boutique museums” within the district.
* Neighborhood Amenities include a Whole Foods and many smaller local grocerias, several drug stores, a vast array of quirky boutiques, gift stores, unique stores, and fitness centers; there are also a couple book stores, several hardware stores, several churches library and post office, and two hospitals within a 1/2 mile of the district.


* ADA generally very good but a good amount of intersections in the hilly parts of Ashbury Heights don’t have modern curb cuts.
* Decent # of electric bikes and bike stations. Dedicated bike lanes are limited to only the Pan Handle Park.
* Economic and generational diversity is so .
* For sale housing is very expensive. 1-bedroom condos start around 700K and sell upwards of 1.3 M. 2-bedrooms start around 850K and sell upwards of 2 M. 3 bedrooms generally between 1-3M. Some larger homes selling btwn 3-5 M.
* Studios lease around 2K, 1-bedrooms mid2Ks-mid3Ks, 2 bedrooms 3 & 4Ks. 3-bedrooms 4K-5K.
* Modern architecture limited to some small scall residential in-fill built close to WWII.
* Only a handful of schools in the district but well rated & diverse.
* Only a handful of live music venues and banks.

The Mission District- San Fran’s original settlement and now thriving Hispanic District

outh America, the Middle East, Philippines and former Yugoslavia. The late 90s-2010s brought the gentrifiers and professionals into the district, especially in the western and northern sides of the neighborhood. The neighborhood’s Chicano/Latino residents, still reside on the eastern and southern sides.

With its highly diverse population and dense development, this is one of my favorite districts in the City. It also boasts great urban form with high quality transit, bike infrastructure , tons of cultural and retail amenities, and great walkable schools. There are several commercial districts (Mission, Valencia, 24th Street, 16th) and most of the neighborhood is highly mixed-use. With 65% of its units rent controlled, many can still live in relative affordably. For sale prices are certainly very high but a decent amount of condos selling between 400-750K, which by San Fran standards is “moderately priced housing”.  There are some minor areas to improve including the redevelopment of surface parking and industrial uses along the district’s northern edge, outdated streetscaping, and a somewhat lack of street trees throughout the district.

Click here to view my Mission District Album on Flickr


* Excellent Density.
* Great public transit access. All around a very walkable district.
* Wonderful mixed-use development throughout the entire district.
* Excellent bike infrastructure, public transit access, and general walkability here.
* One of the most economically and racially diverse districts in the City.
* 65% of all units are rent controls helping to create a large amount of affordable/moderately priced units. Medium rent at $1,700 is lower than the City average.
* Good park amenities starting with expansive and well known Mission Dolares Park. Plenty of small-medium sized parks spread throughout the district. Most are in good shape and amenity rich. Largest skatepark in the City.
* Culturally the district offers a great array of restaurants (esp. ethnic ones),  plenty of bars & cafes, a good number of breweries, art galleries, clubs, and live music venues. There are also several performing arts centers, a pair of cinemas, the historic Doloares Mission Church, several smaller museums and historic sites.
* Neighborhood amenities include several full-size supermarkets (esp. along the northern edge), lots of small grocerias, a couple drug stores, a Best Buy and Office Max, plenty of banks, boutiques, florist’s, and antique/thrift stores, 2 post offices, a library, tons of bookstores/gift shops, dessert places and salons, a couple gyms, a major hospital (Zuckerberg General), and a decent # of churches.
* Walkable access to a wide arrange of schools for all ages. Public receive decent rankings.


* For sale prices are certainly expensive but this district actually has some condos 1 bedrooms selling between 350K-750K. Fair amount of modestly priced condos selling between 750K-1 M. SF homes sell anywhere from 1-3M depending on size and condition.
* Market rate rents are typically in the 2000s for 1 bedrooms, 3000s for 2 bedrooms, 3.5K-6K for 3 bedrooms. Some studios rent in the $1,000s.
* Overall a good tree canopy but below average for San Fran.
* The district is generally safe especially nowadays. Still some blight in along Mission and other commercial streets in the southern edge of the district, a vestige to its past.
* Northern edge of district has a good amount of surface parking and industrial uses.
* Streetscaping is solid but dated. No recent investments.
* The image of the Mission district has certainly improved in recent history (just look at the hsg prices), but still a prospection with some that it is a rough, unsafe place.

The Castro District- America’s first Gayburhood

Castro Street was named after José Castro (1808–1860), a Californian leader of Mexican opposition to U.S. rule in California in the 19th century,  From 1910 on, the Castro District and some of the surrounding areas were known as Little Scandinavia, because of its large Finnish, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish populations attracted to the City’s shipping industry. A large influx of  Irish and Italian immigrants arrived in the 1930s transitioning Castro into an ethnically mixed working-class neighborhood  up until the 60s when Castro underwent a major transformation. At that time the neighborhood became one of the first “Gayburhoods in the United States. The 1950s saw large numbers of families moving out of the Castro to the suburbs opening up large amounts of real estate for gay purchasers. Castro’s gay village is mostly concentrated in its business district along Castro Street from Market Street to 19th Street heavily demarked by flags and banners.

Regardless of Castro’s status on San Fran’s original “Gayburhood” Castro is a high quality urban district blessed with great walkability, urban amenities, attractive Victorian architecture (located mostly outside the 1906 burn zone), great urban form and business district, and vibrant area. Some areas for improvement includes a grave lack of affordable for-sale housing and limited economic diversity. Rental controlled units, however, still comprise about 60% of the district. Bike infrastructure could use several more dedicated lanes, and there is a limited amount of churches in the district. The western edge of Castro is rather hilly and not as conducive of an urban environment, although still well endowed with sidewalks and ADA ramps.

Click here to view the Castro album on my Flickr page


* Over ADA infrastructure and sidewalks are excellent with the some small exception of some missing modern ADA curbs on the hiller sections.
* Great architecture both historic and modern.
* Excellent Tree Canopy.
* Good amount of affordable housing here as 60% of all units are rent controlled. Also a handful of public housing developments here.
* Parkwise there are several great medium sized parks within Castro (Corona Heights, Kite Hill, and Rikki Streicher Field). Mission Dolores & Buena Vista Parks are wonderful larger parks just outside the neighborhood. Tons of smaller pocket/community parks spread throughout.
* Good array of walkable private and public schools. Private schools were generally rates well and public was a mixed bag.
* Great cultural in Castro including  a plethora of restaurants, bars, and cafes along with a ton  of clubs and live music venues. There is also a historic Movie theater, several smaller local museums + the Science Museum, and a good array of art galleries.
* Retail amenities are great as well. Several grocerias and health food stores. A Safeway and Wholefoods are located just outside the district. Other amenities include several drug stores, fitness centers, plenty of banks, good array of boutiques and unique stores, a couple home good/hardware stores, a book store, tons of barbershops & Salons, lots of dessert place, a public library & post office, and many eclectic and creative stores. Sutter Hospital only 1/2-1 mile away.


* Generally good street connectivity but some curvy streets in the hilly section of the district. Still good stair connections for pedestrians here.
* Bike infrastructure good but not great compared to other San Fran districts. Dedicated bike lanes run down Market and 17th street to the center of District but no coverage in western half of district. Bike share is similar in distribution.
* Medium rents at $2,100 are a bit higher than the average City wide . Market rents start in the 2Ks and 3K for studios and 1-bedrooms, and 4K & 5K for 2 & 3 bedrooms. Not a ton listed on the open market.
* For sale housing very expensive. 1-bedroom conds run for 700K-1M, 2-bedrooms 1M-1.5M, and 3 bedrooms 1.5M-3 M generally.
* Not many churches in the district but a good amount in neighboring Mission District.