North Beach in San Francisco

Tuesday, 5 December 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, San Francisco Bay Area
Reading Time:  5 minutes

© panoramio.com - Almondox/cc-by-3.0

© panoramio.com – Almondox/cc-by-3.0

North Beach is a neighborhood in the northeast of San Francisco adjacent to Chinatown, the Financial District, and Russian Hill. The neighborhood is San Francisco’s “Little Italy” and has historically been home to a large Italian American population, largely from Northern Italy. It still has many Italian restaurants, though many other ethnic groups currently live in the neighborhood. It was also the historic center of the beatnik subculture and has become one of San Francisco’s main nightlife districts as well as a residential neighborhood populated by a mix of young urban professionals, families, and Chinese immigrants. The American Planning Association (APA) has named North Beach as one of ten “Great Neighborhoods in America”.

North Beach is bounded by the former Barbary Coast, now Jackson Square, the Financial District south of Broadway, Chinatown to the southwest of Columbus below Green Street, Russian Hill to the west, Telegraph Hill to the east and Fisherman’s Wharf at Bay Street to the north. Main intersections are Union and Columbus, the southwest corner of Washington Square, Grant Avenue, and Vallejo Street. The neighborhood consists of modern, mid-century apartments, duplexes, and Victorian homes and multiplexes.

Residential buildings © unsplash.com - Kimson Doan © panoramio.com - Almondox/cc-by-3.0 © panoramio.com - Almondox/cc-by-3.0 Columbus Avenue and Broadway © flickr.com - Naotake Murayama/cc-by-2.0 Saints Peter and Paul Church on Filbert Street © Daniel Schwen/cc-by-sa-2.5 Kearny Street © panoramio.com - Noah_Loverbear/cc-by-sa-3.0 Records © flickr.com - Tony Webster/cc-by-2.0
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Saints Peter and Paul Church on Filbert Street © Daniel Schwen/cc-by-sa-2.5
Originally, the city’s northeast shoreline extended only to what is today Taylor and Francisco streets. The area largely known today as North Beach was an actual beach, filled in with land fill around the late 19th century. Warehouses, fishing wharves, and docks were then built on the newly formed shoreline. Due to the proximity of the docks, the southern half of the neighborhood south of Broadway was home of the infamous Barbary Coast.

In 1880, Elizabeth Ashe and Alice Griffith founded what would become the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center to help fight illness, illiteracy and poor conditions in North Beach and lobbied hard for better recreation opportunities for neighborhood children. In 1907, the city formed its first playground commission with the idea of carving out space for recreation areas specifically for kids. The first playground commission picked two sites, including the North Beach Playground. The plan included an outdoor swimming pool, which was financed by diverting funds from a fire department cistern planned for Powell and Lombard, perhaps the first publicly-financed public pool in the city. In 1910, the North Beach playground and pool was constructed. The three youngest of the nine DiMaggio kids, Vince, Joe and Dom, grew up playing baseball there in the 1920s and became professional baseball players.

After the 1906 earthquake reconstruction, a large number of Italian immigrants created the Italian character of the neighborhood that still exists. Prominent Italian Americans that came from the neighborhood include baseball legend Joe DiMaggio who grew up in the neighborhood and briefly returned to live there with his wife Marilyn Monroe during the 1950s, as well as former San Francisco mayor and politician Joseph Alioto plus others from the prominent Alioto family.

North Beach was home to the first lesbian bar in San Francisco, Mona’s 440 Club. Mona Sargeant and her husband Jimmie opened Mona’s in 1936 in a North Beach basement as a small underground bar celebrating the end of Prohibition. Once Mona’s gained enough popularity between the gay community and tourists, the club moved to a much larger location at 440 Broadway Street. The club remained Mona’s 440 until the mid 1950s.

During the 1950s, many of the neighborhood’s cafes and bars became the home and epicenter of the Beat Generation and gave rise to the San Francisco Renaissance. The term “beatnik” originated from the scene here and was coined in a derogatory fashion by famed San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen. Many of that generation’s most famous writers and personalities such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Neal Cassady lived in the neighborhood. Another poet from this generation, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, founded the City Lights Bookstore that still exists today on the corner of Broadway and Columbus as an official historic landmark and serves as one of the main focal points of this generation.

Read more on sftravel.com – North Beach, Wikivoyage Chinatown and North Beach and Wikipedia North Beach (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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