District 8

Overall flavor

This is the original center of San Francisco during the gold rush of 1849. It’s densely packed, architecturally varied and contains both extremes of wealth and poverty. Home to the iconic Transamerica Building, Coit Tower, the Barbary Coast and the Financial District. Broadway was notable as well, being the location of many strip clubs, including the Condor, featuring Carol Doda. Be sure to visit Chinatown as well; it is known as the oldest in North America, as well as having the largest population of Chinese ethnicity outside China.

Urban or suburban

Given its density, this area is considered very urban by San Francisco standards.

Highlights/interesting tid bits

Home to three of San Francisco’s seven hills; Russian, Nob and Telegraph. If you look down as you get closer to the Bay, you might see the outline of the original Bay, which is outlined in the sidewalk and street. Over the course of time, part of the Bay was filled in to extend downtown. During construction, submerged ships have been found in these areas, so construction had to stop while the ship got documented, then construction would proceed. Much of this area burned after the earthquake of 1906, which is why fewer of the older buildings still exist. Also of interest, Van Ness Ave, was a toney part of town in 1906, lined with mansions, which were destroyed to create a firebreak during the fires post-earthquake.

Architecture

You’ll find some of the oldest, and newest, architecture in this area, starting from the Gold Rush to today. Beyond the 1906 fire line, you’ll find some of the oldest architecture. Within the fire line, you’ll find many Edwardian Era and newer buildings, both commercial and residential.

Housing stock

Densely populated, most buildings are in a rowhouse configuration and look attached. There are single family homes in the area, mostly in the Northern part of the district. As you move into the Financial District, Downtown and the Van Ness Corridor, it’s mostly large scale multi-unit and commercial buildings.

Commercial area

Van Ness, Financial District, Grant St., Columbus, Broadway

Parks

Union Square, Coit Tower, Justin Herman Plaza, Civic Center, Aquatic Park, Washington Square

Access

Public transportation – buses, both MUNI and Golden Gate Transit, underground, BART

Private transportation – Highway 101 connect to Marin and the Peninsula. In nearby District 9, and Interstate 80 connects to the East Bay and Peninsula.

Tech buses connecting to the Peninsula

Parking

Is difficult in this area. Consider a Taxi if going out for a night on the town.