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The Castro District is one of San Francisco's most stylish and popular neighborhoods. It's the largest gay neighborhood in the United States and was one of the country's first. While rainbow flags fly proudly on almost every corner, and the Castro remains a prominent hub for LGBT events and activism, it is a diverse and welcoming neighborhood filled with good food, trendy stores and a thriving nightlife scene. Most of the Victorian homes that line the pedestrian-friendly streets here have been carefully restored and maintained, adding to the high-end, clean look and feel of this truly charming neighborhood. The gentility of the homes contrasts the many adult shops and celebrations that are part of the Castro scene.
Nestled in Eureka Valley, the Castro is a roughly triangle-shaped neighborhood bordered by Noe Valley on the South at 22nd Street and by the Mission District on the east at Church Street. Market Street provides the north and west border, except where the Duboce Triangle extends north at Castro Street to Duboce Avenue. Even with a parking permit, resident parking is extremely limited. The Financial District downtown is three miles away, but is easily accessible by public transportation using the KT, L and M MUNI (San Francisco Municipal Railway) lines. The Castro Street MUNI station at the Intersection of Market, Castro and 17th Streets means easy access to a variety of lines that can get you anywhere in the city. The historic F line runs between Fisherman's Wharf and the Castro.
The Castro neighborhood is very walkable, with food, services and parks nearby. The neighborhood's many adult-themed businesses and occasional public nudity may cause parents to think twice before moving here or visiting with small children. However, the Castro also boasts many child-friendly attractions, including the Seward Street slide, the Castro Theatre Sing-Along and Helen Diller Playground at Delores Park. Young professionals with high incomes dominate the population and take pride in the neighborhood's reputation as one of the city's cleanest areas.
While about 40% of Castro residents are married, more than 80% of the neighborhood's population are childless. Nearly 40% are in their 20s or 30s. An estimated 13% of residents are gay men, and about 1.5% are lesbian women.
Commute times from the Castro are between 10 and 45 minutes for about 67% of the neighborhood's population. About 23% of residents have a commute of 20 minutes or less. Commuting to Silicon Valley from the Castro via public transportation takes roughly an hour and half.
The Castro can be divided into three sections: West of Castro Street is hilly, featuring high-end multistory buildings; East of Castro Street is flatter and more closely resembles the Mission district's looser character and diverse scenery; and the Duboce Triangle, extending north of Market Street along Castro Street and Duboce Avenue, is the last of the Castro areas to develop, but up-and-coming restaurants and shops along with an eclectic mix of residents has made it just as integral to the neighborhood as the other more established residential sections. Most of the blocks in the Castro have tree-filled interior courtyards, sometimes shared between neighbors. While it's a busy and beautiful place during the day, the Castro really lights up at night. Bars and nightclubs fill up, with patrons spilling out into the street. The "scene" is still primarily gay, but the attitude is welcoming to all. It's one of the safer areas of the city in which to roam at night. The lavish Castro Theatre is the neighborhood's heart, offering entertainment for all. The neighborhood is known for its celebrations, with June and October being the most active months. June is Pride Month, when Market Street becomes home to all sort of parties all month long. In late October, the Castro Street Fair, the city's longest-running street fair, is held. Just days after that, several streets shut down for the Castro's famous Halloween celebration.
When the Market Street Railway Company built a line connecting Eureka Valley to Downtown in 1887, the Castro was born. The large Victorians built by Irish, Scandinavian and German homesteaders are still, more than a century later, points of pride in the neighborhood. It was a quiet, working-class neighborhood until after World War II, when throngs of people took to the suburbs. This left the area more open in the 1960s and '70s for buyers, many of whom were gay and lesbian, to snag old homes at low prices, eventually transforming the Castro into a gay-friendly enclave. Gay culture is still the heart and lifeblood of this neighborhood, even as it expands and embraces a variety of new residents.
The Castro's history is represented in its most notable address: 575 Castro St. - This was once Harvey Milk's home, campaign headquarters and camera shop. Milk served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and was first openly-gay man elected to a prominent public office. It is now headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign, which is a fitting tribute to Milk's civil rights work. 4127 18th St. - The GLBT History Museum is located here. 250 Douglass St. - Alfred ?Nobby? Clarke?s Mansion. A whimsical mansion built in 1891, it's one of the few buildings in the neighborhood that survived the 1906 earthquake. 17th and Market St. - Pink Triangle Memorial Park is the first permanent, free-standing memorial in America to honor the thousands of persecuted homosexuals in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.