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San Francisco District 8 Community Information
Chinatown, Financial District, Nob Hill, North Beach, North Waterfront, Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, Union Square, Van Ness / Civic Center
San Francisco District 8 is where San Francisco’s history all began. From Fisherman’s Wharf up and over the hills to the borders of the Tenderloin and west to the Civic Center complex, home to the newly restored City Hall with its 14 carat golden dome, one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts buildings in the the country. City Hall is neighbored by the grand buildings of Louise B. Davies Hall, the Opera House, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium plus more. On any given Sunday you can hear in the tenderloin gospel music at Glide Memorial Church to the magnificent sounds of Grace Cathedrals organ while ending your day w/ jazz at one of the many North Beach haunts.
Nob Hill was the spot on which all the Big Four railroad magnates ( Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford and Collis Huntington) lost their palatial mansions to the infamous fire of 1906. What you will find now on Nob Hill are luxury hotels such as Fairmont, Mark Hopkins, Stanford Court and the Huntington. A few elegant mansions, expensive highrises with crisply dressed doormen, a few homes or buildings by Julia Morgan. Sharing this world famous square is the Masonic Auditorium, Grace Cathedral, and the Huntington Park which provides a playground for the nannies of the wealthy to the annual Junior League Open Market. The historic cable car barn pulling all the cable cars by massive drums with standing-room – only loads of tourists and locals up and down the hills from Union Square to Aquatic Park. No hill in San Francisco’s District 8 can boast of more history than Nob Hill!
Telegraph Hill, formerly known as ” Goat Hill” by the many Italians who lived in this quarter, has lovely vistas that are shared by quaint single-family homes and apartments which are coveted due to the proximity to the financial district and nightlife of North Beach. Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a poker-playing, cigarette-smoking millionaire who loved to ride on fire trucks and became an honorary member of the Knickerbocker Engine Company No. #5, bequeathed one-third of her fortune to having a monument, Coit Tower, built on the very top of Telegraph Hill. Today, Coit Tower homes the revolutionary frescoes of Diego Rivera and other less known painters who were financed by the Federal Art project of 1933. Hundreds of tourist a day can be counted while by night lovers parked to enjoy the city lights laid out like a blanket, just steps away from the surviving wooden houses from the 1906 fire that once covered the hill.
Russian Hill homes with an eclectic assortment of 19th century Italianate facades, apartments, condos and single-family residences to structures designed by famous architects such as Willis Polk share this arena. Also, Vallejo Street Crest District w/ its National Register of Historic Places site to the infamous “crookedest street in the world” Lombard Street are all used as settings of countless books and films. Several lovely parks, plenty of good restaurants, and shopping on Polk and Hyde streets make this a highly sought after urban and centrally located area to live or rent.
Financial District, directly south of North Beach, claims this predominately commercial center of historic banks, highrise office buildings, a smattering of upscale apartments and condominiums and TransAmerica Pyramid. The Jackson Square Park is the only green space for a respit from the hurried environment of commerce all around. Portsmouth Square with its many Chinese grandmas practicing their Tai Chi daily is the opening of Chinatown to the west.
Nestled between Nob Hill, the Financial District and North Beach you can find Chinatown. As SFGate describes it, “The reality of Chinatown is that there are two Chinatowns: One belongs to the locals, the other charms the tourists. They overlap and dance with each other, drawing more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge. Why the popularity? Because visitors expect something they won’t find anywhere else. They expect to be stunned and enchanted and stuffed with great food. You don’t need an itinerary to tackle Chinatown. Wandering aimlessly, weaving between locals and ducking into shops is enough of a plan. Main Street for tourists is Grant Avenue, which is more about cheap and kitschy plastic Buddhas than the long heritage of Chinatown.” **
The North Waterfront includes, “Fisherman’s Wharf… Roughly speaking it encompasses the northern waterfront area of San Francisco’s District 8 from Ghirardelli Square or Van Ness Street east to Pier 35 or Kearny Street. It is mainly a tourist attraction, known for being the location of Pier 39, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Ghirardelli Square, ferry rides to Alcatraz and restaurants that serve seafood, most notably dungeness crab. Transportation to Fisherman’s Wharf can be an attraction of itself, the F Market runs through the area, the Powell-Hyde cable car lines runs to Aquatic Park, at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Powell-Mason cable car line runs a few blocks away. Other popular areas in SF District 8, such as Chinatown, Lombard Street and North Beach are all located in proximity to Fisherman’s Wharf.” *
SFGate says, “Union Square, one of San Francisco’s main retail and cultural centers, also refers to the actual park bordered by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton streets. Set aside as a park in 1850 and named before the start of the Civil War as a tribute to the frequent demonstrations in support of the Union troop, the park got a major renovation and restoration in 2002.” **
Though not officially a residential neighborhood, the Van Ness/Civic Center area has its share of live/work lofts as well as the somewhat infamous 151 Alice B. Toklas Pl. Named after San Francisco’s eccentric inhabitant who died in 1967, she is best known for her cookbook filled with “cannabis concoctions”. *
* source – Wikipedia
** source – SFGate
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