San Francisco's Northeast District includes Downtown San Francisco and the neighborhoods of the Financial District, Barbary Coast, Nob Hill, North Beach, North Waterfront, Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, Tenderloin, Van Ness and Civic Center.
Financial District/Barbary Coast
The Financial District is the central business location of San Francisco. The original settlers built the first modern neighborhoods in this area, and population quickly expanded after the Gold Rush. Most of the buildings, however, were completely destroyed by the fires of the 1906 earthquake. These were later replaced with low-rise, masonry-clad and neo-gothic buildings, some of which are still standing today. Due to earthquake retrofitting technology after the 1950’s, height restrictions were lifted and resulted in the construction of many of the city’s first skyscrapers. San Francisco’s most iconic building, The Transamerica Pyramid located at 600 Montgomery Street, was completed in 1972 and is currently the tallest skyscraper in the city. The Financial District is home to many Fortune 500 Companies, the U.S. Federal Reserve, and International Consulates. Many residential units are high-rise full service buildings with amazing views of the San Francisco Bay, Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge, and the Embarcadero.
Nob Hill was named after four prominent tycoons who built mansions at the top of the hill where California and Powell Street intersect. These tycoons were referred to as “Nobhobs” by the local community and later coined this area “Nob Hill.” This neighborhood quickly became an affluent and exclusive community where the city’s upper-class families resided. Most of the original mansions of the early 20th century were destroyed, and luxurious hotels including the Fairmont Hotel, Mark Hopkins, Huntington and The Stanford Court were built in their place. Beautifully ornate condominium and apartment buildings quickly rose, taking full advantage of the views from atop the hill. Huntington Park also lies at the top of the hill, adjacent to the magnificent Grace Cathedral Church. San Francisco’s iconic cable cars run up Powell Street and California Street, meeting at the top of Nob Hill, making this location an ideal tourist destination.
Home to “Little Italy,” the North Beach neighborhood is one of San Francisco’s main nightlife and dining districts. In the early part of the 20th century, many Italian immigrants moved to this neighborhood and helped shape the Italian character that is still prominent today. Housing here consists of apartments units, duplexes, and modest Victorian homes that date back to the early 1920s. During the 1950’s, baseball legend Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe in St. Peter & Paul Church, which faces Washington Square Park. Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Ghirardelli Square are located on the northern edge of North Beach, and are some of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco. According to the American Planning Association, North Beach is ranked as one of the “Top 10 Great Neighborhoods in America.”
Located north of Nob Hill, the Russian Hill neighborhood dates back to the beginning of the Gold Rush, where early settlers discovered a Russian cemetery. In 1922, a one-way section of Lombard Street was designed with 8 sharp turns and quickly earned the name “the crookedest street in the world.” This iconic street is currently one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.
Telegraph Hill is a 284-foot hill on the northern end of this district, with a unique set of inhabitants – the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. For a good workout, there is a scenic pathway of about 400 stairs meandering through lush greenery and hillside homes from the base of Telegraph Hill up to Coit Tower, one of San Francisco’s most well known landmarks. Coit Tower was built in 1933 at the top of Telegraph Hill by architects Lillie Hitchcock Coit and Arthur Brown, Jr. The tower features indoor murals painted in 1934, and impeccable views. Standing proudly atop the hill, the 210-foot tall Coit Tower can be seen from almost any location in the vicinity. At night, the tower is lit by color-changing lights, making it an even more interesting part of the San Francisco City skyline.