San Francisco's Central District includes the neighborhoods of Ashbury Heights, Buena Vista, Castro, Clarendon Heights, Cole Valley, Corona Heights, Corona Heights, Dolores Heights, Duboce Triangle, Eureka Valley, Glen Park, Haight Ashbury, Mission Dolores, Noe Valley, Parnassus Heights and Twin Peaks.
The Castro District gets its name from Jose Castro, a Mexican revolutionist and political leader and the surrounding neighborhood was slowly created in the late 1880’s. Located at one end of Market Street, this neighborhood was quickly named Little Scandinavia for its influx of residents from Russia, Finland, and Sweden in the beginning of the 20th century. Many Victorian homes here were spared from destruction following the 1906 earthquake, including one of the oldest residential homes in San Francisco, the Caselli Mansion, located on Douglas Street. In 1922, Timothy L. Pflueger designed the iconic Castro Theatre adding a Spanish Colonial Baroque façade inspired by Mission Dolores. Additionally, after World War 2, thousands of gay servicemen that were discharged from the military sought refuge in San Francisco. The Castro became an epicenter for LGBT rights and by the 1970’s transformed into an upscale gay-friendly neighborhood. It is arguably one of the first predominantly gay neighborhoods in the United States.
This triangular neighborhood, bordered by Market Street, Castro Street and Church Street is sometimes referred to as Mint Hill, after the United States Mint, which overlooks this neighborhood. Beautiful turn-of-the-century Victorian homes, most of which have been transformed into multi-family homes and apartments, add to the character of this location. Luxurious mid-rise apartments have been recently built along Market Street transforming this neighborhood, where many new young professionals and families reside. Conveniently located next to MUNI, BART and F-Line Stations, Duboce Triangle is rather easy to get to, and to commute from. Lined by a row of beautiful Victorian homes, Duboce Park is one of the best and most well-known dog parks in all of San Francisco.
One of the most iconic and well-known tourist destinations in San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury was named after two of San Francisco’s early leaders, banker Henry Haight, and Munroe Ashbury, member of the Board of Supervisors in the 1860’s. Extremely ornate early 19th century Victorian houses were spared from the devastating fires that consumed most of the city as a result of the 1906 earthquake. Once known as an upper-middleclass neighborhood, the tides quickly changed following the Depression and World War 2. Some of the single-family homes were converted to more affordable single-story apartments and flats. A decline of property values was the result of a highly controversial proposed freeway in this neighborhood. As a result, many young individuals flocked to the newly affordable neighborhood in the early 1960’s during the hippie movement. Eclectic shops, music, and bars strengthened the subculture and popularity of this part of the city. National media coverage coined the term “Summer of Love” which gave fame to local aspiring musicians including Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin. In the 1980’s, Haight-Ashbury then introduced up-and-coming comedians including Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Dana Carvey who performed at the Other Café, currently the Crepes on Cole restaurant.
This neighborhood was developed in the beginning of the 20th century in the years following the 1906 earthquake. The houses in Noe Valley are classic examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, with ornate architectural detailing, depending on each owner. Many streets were named after John Meirs Horner, who owned a majority of the land. Once considered a community for working class families, this neighborhood has now transformed into one of San Francisco’s more upscale neighborhoods, popular with urban tech professionals and their families. Mostly residential, Noe Valley has the highest concentration of row houses per neighborhood in all of San Francisco. Church and 24th Streets are home to popular cafes, restaurants, bakeries, and boutiques, and St. Paul’s Catholic Church on Church Street is famously known for its feature in the movie Sister Act, starring Whoopi Goldberg.
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