While the earthquake of 1906, as well as various subsequent fires, destroyed 80% of San Francisco in the past, many parts of the city managed to survive. From North Beach to Alamo Square, these are some of San Francisco’s most historic neighborhoods.
Alamo Square Historic District
The Alamo Square Historic District is considered to be one of the prettiest neighborhoods in San Francisco, with certain parts of the area, such as Postcard Row and Westerfeld House, being iconic to the city. The neighborhood features traditional Victorian architecture that was left untouched during multiple city renewal projects, and many of these residential structures were designed by some of the city’s best architects of the time. The ornate Victorian houses of the district are so distinctive that they have even been featured on several different movies and television shows, from Full House to The Invasion of the Body Snatchers to The Five Year Engagement.
The San Francisco neighborhood of North Beach was actually once a beach, before being reclaimed in the late 19th century. After this area was reconstructed following the 1906 earthquake, it quickly became home to a large number of Italian immigrants, earning the area the nickname of Little Italy. While the area’s native Italian American population may be rapidly shrinking, its essence and history can still be felt throughout.
Believed to be the oldest commercial neighborhood in the city, Jackson Square is home to a large number of commercial buildings that date back to the 1850’s and 1860’s. These stately streets and historic buildings are best explored on foot, so that you can really appreciate the way in which the neighborhood embodies the earlier spirit of the city.
The Castro District is famous in gay culture all across the world, as it is known for being the first gay district in the United States. While the Castro used to be a relatively working class Irish neighborhood, this all changed in the 1960’s, and several different events helped to bring gay culture to mainstream media. Today, the Castro is one of the friendliest and most colorful parts of the city, and is definitely worth a visit when in San Francisco.
Cottage Row Historic District
The Cottage Row Historic District is a charming row of Victorian houses that date back to the 1800’s, with the majority of them having been designed by William Hollis. These properties have always served as residential buildings, and at one point, the area was nicknamed Japan Street, as it was filled with Japanese Americans who lived there during the second World War. While these houses have been slightly altered over the years, their original features are still mostly intact and display the glory of their former years.
San Francisco has some truly rich historical sites, and these are all worth visiting when in the city. From the Victorian architecture of Cottage Row to the revolutionary district of the Castro, these neighborhoods have all played a significant role in the development of the San Francisco that we know and love today.