Top San Francisco Neighborhoods
Welcome to North Beach, best known as the Little Italy of San Francisco and the historic hangout of influential Beat Generation poets and artists. Many of the San Francisco's iconic tourist spots are in this neighborhood, including Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill and Lombard Street (aka the 'crookedest street in the world'). Despite its reputation as a tourist spot, North Beach has a thriving local scene that heats up at night. This neighborhood is packed with active bars and nightclubs?including a line of strip clubs that doesn't quite seem to fit until you remember the neighborhood's Wild West heritage. Aside from a concentration of Italian eateries, bakeries and delis, the neighborhood also sports Japanese, French and California cuisine for a little variety ? and Chinatown is just next door! Cute boutiques dot Grant Avenue, providing locals and visitors alike with unique shopping opportunities.
Transportation and Livability
North Beach is located in the northeast of San Francisco, between Bay Street and Broadway. The neighborhood is next to Chinatown, The Embarcadero and Russian Hill. The main intersections of North Beach are at Union Street and Columbus Avenue, and Grant Avenue and Vallejo Street. Downtown San Francisco, also known as the Financial District, is just one mile away. North Beach is easily accessible by MUNI (the city's municipal transit system) bus via the 8BX, 8X, 10, 12, 41, 1, 30 or 45 lines. The Powell Street and Market Street cable car line also goes through North Beach.
North Beach is a very walkable neighborhood, making it possible to run errands by foot or bike. It's proximity to downtown also makes commuting by foot or bike easy. However, parking in North Beach is often difficult. While it's generally a safe and clean neighborhood with a large park, an overwhelming number of residents are childless, it's not the easiest area to navigate with a stroller or small child in tow.
About 42% of residents are married, and just under 11% of residents have children. Nearly 40% of North Beach dwellers are in their 30s and 40s; the median age for the area is 42.
Commute times from North Beach are between 10 and 45 minutes for 71% of the neighborhood's population. About 39% of residents have a commute of 20 minutes or less.
North Beach has a compact layout of narrow streets lined with apartments, duplexes and Victorians, in addition to restaurants, shops and nightclubs, all teeming with young professionals. The city's iconic Transamerica Pyramid is in full view from the neighborhood's busy streets heading toward the bustling Financial District. However, Washington Square Park ? between Powell, Stockton, Union and Filbert Streets ? is a serene, green oasis where locals frequently lounge or practice Tai Chi. The neo-Gothic Church of Saints Peter and Paul anchors the park and serves as North Beach's beautiful center. North Beach offers panoramic city views to those who aren't afraid of some uphill trekking. A hike up Telegraph Hill, accessible by either the Filbert Street or Greenwich Street stairs, goes through lush gardens and tawny cottages to Coit Tower, a 210-foot Art Deco tower boasting 27 murals designed by Diego Rivera. A flock of wild parrots calls the area home. For after-hike rewards, North Beach offers authentic espresso, hearty pasta meals, and Beach Blanket Babylon, the neighborhood's famous stage show that combines camp and pop culture.
North Beach History
Grant Avenue, at the heart of North Beach, is the oldest street in San Francisco. In the late 1800s, thousands of Italian immigrants made North Beach their home. Today, their influence an be seen in the neighborhood's character, even though there may be more Chinese immigrants living there now. This neighborhood has a vibrant history as part of the old Barbary Coast, a late-19th and early-20th century Wild West outpost featuring dance halls, saloons, burlesque shows and brothels. A bit of this history lives on in the neighborhood's thriving nightlife scene and Broadway's strip clubs and shows. Perhaps it was this same rebel spirit that drew Beat Generation royalty to the city. Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights is still one of the best bookstores in the city, decades after it became famous for publishing Allen Ginsburg's Howl. Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio grew up in North Beach and married Marilyn Monroe at the cathedral at Washington Square.
Though the exact address of Joe DiMaggio's childhood home in North Beach isn't known, it's somewhere on Taylor Street. But there are several other notable addresses in this neighborhood: 2150 Beach St. - Former home of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. 554 Broadway - Allen Ginsberg lived here in 1954. 1010 Montgomery St. - Where Allen Ginsberg wrote Howl. 29 Russell Pl. - Neal and Carolyn Cassady lived here in 1950s. Jack Kerouac, an occasional houseguest, stayed in the home for several months in early 1952 while writing Visions of Cody.