The Streets of San Francisco

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GrantStLargeCalifornia’s history is nothing if not dramatic, and like a gun moll in a film noir, San Francisco is a city with a past. Until about 1848 or 1849, it was a sleepy little bayside hamlet called Yerba Buena. American settlers had started moving in around the same time the land was ceded to the U.S. at the end of the Mexican-American war, and then all hell broke loose the Gold Rush frenzy descended.

Today, the Bay Area still embodies that pioneering spirit and is known as a hub for innovation, individualism, and progressive thinking. San Francisco is without a doubt the glittering jewel in that crown. One of the things I’ve always loved about San Francisco is the diversity of its neighborhoods. While the city has diminutive dimensions (seven miles square), its neighborhoods – from the Castro, where Harvey Milk set up his camera shop, to North Beach, the Italian-American neighborhood where Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan gathered at City Lights Books – envelop you in their own distinct charms.

San Francisco Chronicle writer Carl Nolte recently wrote a great piece detailing the evolution of the city’s neighborhoods through boom and bust, natural disaster, the birth of the Municipal Railway (which began in 1912 with one electric streetcar line from Geary Street to the Richmond District) demographic changes and redevelopment initiatives. For San Franciscans and those who have spent time here, how have you seen the neighborhoods change over the years? What are your favorite neighborhoods and why?

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