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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Selected Neighborhoods I like (most are close to Glen Park)

Bernal Heights - South of the Mission District and bordered by Cesar Chavez Street and Bayshore and Alemany boulevards, Bernal Heights and its pastel-colored houses sits quietly away from the hustle and bustle of urban San Francisco. Its open-space hill keeps Bernal Heights from straying too far from rural, remaining distantly connected to its farming history.

Castro - Considered the center of alternative living in San Francisco, the Castro district offers some of the most colorful and vibrant settings in the city. The neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, Castro Street, is home to many restaurants, alternative bookstores and diverse shops. Architecture in the Castro is contemporary, with Victorians and apartment buildings lining its side streets. The Castro is the center for the city’s gay-lesbian-transgendered population.

Downtown/Financial District - Some call San Francisco’s downtown “Wall Street West” because it is ranked as one of the top four financial centers in the nation. The Financial District begins at Montgomery Street and extends east toward the Embarcadero, comprising of only a few city blocks. Montgomery Street has been linked to banking since the Gold Rush and, today, continues to be a bustling business area. Two easily recognizable landmarks distinguish the Financial District. Rising to 858 feet, the Transamerica Pyramid is one of San Francisco’s famous icons and a dominant feature in the city’s skyline. The 52nd floor of the Bank of America Building offers breathtaking views of the city.

Duboce Triangle (near Castro)- Beautifully restored Victorian homes line Duboce Triangle. Bordered by Market Street it’s a shockingly quite neighborhood within a stones throw of restaurants, coffee houses, pubs and boutiques, and other forms of entertainment. Also, Duboce Park is perfect for those with dogs. Nearby Noe Valley provides public transportation and a lively 24th Street.

Glen Park - On the lower slopes of Diamond Heights, just south of Noe Valley, sits the charming and quiet neighborhood of Glen Park. Victorians and architecturally interesting modern homes line Laidley Street. Coffee shops, bookstores, pizza parlors and boutiques line Chenery and Diamond Streets. The neighborhood feels worlds away from downtown, but with a BART station at Diamond and Bosworth streets, locals can reach the city center in 20 minutes. Glen Park was once a dairy capital in the 1850s. Today, the rural area is confined to beautiful Glen Canyon Park, a haven for dogs, Frisbee throwing and picnics.

Haight Ashbury - Universally known for its 60s flair, Haight Ashbury is still recognized for its creativity and diversity. Haight Ashbury is home to colorful Victorians, eclectic shops, sidewalk cafes and popular night clubs. In 1870, California Governor Henry H. Haight formed the San Francisco Park Commission to develop Golden Gate Park, which is adjacent to Haight Ashbury. Haight Ashbury is also famous for its residents of the past, including Jerry Garcia, the Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin, to name a few.

Marina - Once marshland, the Marina is now home to many young professionals and is recognized by the landmark Palace of Fine Arts. In 1915, the Palace of Fine Arts was built to host the Pan Pacific Exhibition, celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal, as well as San Francisco’s recovery from the physical and economic devastation of the 1906 earthquake. Designed by Bernard Maybeck, the palace became the focal point of the fair. Deeded to the city by the Army after World War II, the once-temporary structure fell to ruin. By the 1950s, a movement to save the palace emerged, and funds were raised to tear down the entire building and rebuild using permanent materials. The unique San Francisco landmark is owned by the city and is leased to the Exploratorium and the Palace of Fine Arts Theater. The Marina attracts many people who are seeking the pleasures of jogging, sunbathing and strolling by the bay. The Marina Green is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors, with a pedestrian path that is perfect for rollerblading, walking or running. For shopping enthusiasts, Chestnut Street has many fashionable shops and boutiques. Fort Mason is also nearby and hosts many cultural events, including the San Francisco Blues and Jazz Festival. With views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, the Marina offers a quaint, upscale neighborhood with a relaxed lifestyle.

Mission - The Mission is home to the city’s oldest structure, Mission Dolores, the sixth Franciscan mission built along El Camino Real. Located nearby is the ornate Mission Dolores Basilica. Within the Mission District, it is easy to find spicy taquerias, Mexican bakeries and colorful murals depicting Mexican and Latino history. The original Levi Strauss factory was located in this area at 250 Valencia Street. Today, the Mission is a popular area for a mix of working-class Latino families, young professionals, artists and others who enjoy its culturally diverse atmosphere. (There is a fun old fashioned ice cream parlor for the kids, 24th and Folsom.)

Mission Bay - Mission Bay, also known as Mission Rock, Mission Creek and China Basin, is a rapidly evolving area of the city, thanks in part to the new San Francisco Giants’ stadium and the Mission Bay development project. This eclectic neighborhood features San Francisco’s houseboat enclave, as well as the Lefty O’Doul drawbridge. The current development is transforming 303 acres of former rail yards and warehouses, into a new neighborhood of apartments, office buildings, retail shops and the University of California, San Francisco’s medical research campus, including 49 acres of parks and the neighborhood’s first supermarket.

Noe Valley - Nestled in the lowland between Twin Peaks and Diamond Heights, Noe Valley is a quaint neighborhood, centered around 24th Street, with its coffee shops, boutiques, bookstores and multitude of ethnic restaurants. The architecture of Noe Valley is predominantly Victorian. Noe Valley is named after Jose De Jesus Noe, a Spanish colonist who formed the Hyar and Padres colony in 1884. Noe was also the last Mexican Mayor of San Francisco. Numerous Irish and German immigrants moved to Noe Valley over the years, and the international influence is evident in the Irish pubs and the specialty food stores lining 24th Street.

North Beach - North Beach is known as “Little Italy”, with its abundant Italian restaurants, cafes and bakeries. The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul gracefully sits on the northern side of Washington Square, a grassy piazza and center to North Beach’s energy and cultural buss. Every dawn, Washington Square hosts anywhere from a handful to a hundred people greeting the day with the practice of Tai Chi. The main attractions of North Beach are its restaurants, which include fine dining, traditional cafes and Italian delicatessens. The oldest street in the city, Grant Avenue, extends into North Beach and offers several Barbary Coast saloons, second-hand shops, pizza parlors and clothing boutiques.

Potrero Hill - Potrero Hill sits south of 16th Street and is framed by Potrero Avenue, Cesar Chavez Street and Highway 280. The neighborhood has a community feel all its own; it even has its own weekly newspaper, the Potrero Hill. Pleasant window shopping and café dining is popular with locals. The Potrero Hill Neighborhood House has existed for almost a century and is used by residents for various occasions, such as town meetings and recitals.
This area of the city gets more sun than most, and has attracted a lively mix of professionals and artists. Residences are comprised of free-standing houses (many built in Victorian architecture), town homes, flat-style condominiums, warehouse spaces, lofts, and multi-unit buildings. Many enjoy outstanding city views from the 300-foot high hill.

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