North Beach, San Francisco

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North Beach
Neighborhood of San Francisco
Saints Peter and Paul Church in North Beach. Baseball legend and neighborhood native Joe DiMaggio was photographed there with Marilyn Monroe after marrying her at City Hall in 1954.
Saints Peter and Paul Church in North Beach. Baseball legend and neighborhood native Joe DiMaggio was photographed there with Marilyn Monroe after marrying her at City Hall in 1954.
North Beach is located in San Francisco
North Beach
North Beach
Location within Central San Francisco
Coordinates: 37°48′1.04″N 122°24′36.66″W / 37.8002889°N 122.4101833°W / 37.8002889; -122.4101833
Government
 • State Assembly David Chiu (D)[1]
 • State Senator Mark Leno (D)[1]
 • U. S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D)[2]
Area[3]
 • Total 1.61 km2 (0.620 sq mi)
 • Land 1.61 km2 (0.620 sq mi)
 • Water 0 km2 (0 sq mi)  0%
Population (2008)[3]
 • Total 20,171
 • Density 12,571/km2 (32,558/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP Codes 94111, 94133
Area code(s) 415
View of North Beach from Telegraph Hill, 1856

North Beach is a neighborhood in the northeast of San Francisco adjacent to Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf and Russian Hill. The neighborhood is San Francisco's Little Italy, and has historically been home to a large Italian American population. It is still home to many Italian restaurants today, though many other ethnic groups currently live in the neighborhood. It was also the historic center of the beatnik subculture. Today, North Beach is 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 connected to the adjacent Chinatown.

The American Planning Association (APA) has named North Beach as one of ten "Great Neighborhoods in America".[4]

Location[edit]

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 somewhat compact layout of the neighborhood consists apartments, duplexes, and Victorian homes dating from the 1920s, when residents rebuilt the neighborhood from its complete destruction after the earthquake and fire of 1906.

History[edit]

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 landfill 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.

Following its reconstruction after the 1906 Earthquake, the proximity of the nearby docks and fishing wharves attracted a large number of Italian immigrants who would create the Italian character of the neighborhood that exists even now. 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.

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 local and 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.

During the 1960s a notable night spot was The Committee, an Improvisational theatre group founded by alumni of The Second City in Chicago. The Committee opened April 10, 1963 at 622 Broadway in a 300-seat Cabaret theater.

The Broadway area also created innovations for the strip club industry. The Condor Club, on the corner of Columbus and Broadway, was opened in 1964 as America's first topless bar, which it is again today. The Lusty Lady was the first striptease club to be structured as a worker cooperative, which meant that it was managed by the dancers who worked at that peep-show establishment. Broadway strip clubs owe their legacy to the Barbary Coast, which was located just one block south on Pacific Street during the late 19th-century.

In the 1970s and 1980s Broadway was the location of many live music clubs, like the Stone, and a punk rock club called the Mabuhay Gardens.

Since the 1980s, and much like Manhattan's Little Italy, due to a decrease in emigration from Italy and gentrification, the neighborhood has seen its native Italian American population rapidly shrink, while neighboring Chinatown has been rapidly expanding north into the neighborhood east of Broadway and along Stockton Street causing a major demographic shift to a mix of mostly Chinese and young professional population, although some, albeit very few, Italian Americans remain.

Attractions and characteristics[edit]

Looking southeast from Columbus Avenue (on the left) and Stockton (on the right). The Transamerica Pyramid is visible in the background on Columbus Avenue. The array of overhead wires supply power for the electric trolley buses such as the one seen on Stockton Street.

Events[edit]

Population[edit]

While the native Italian American population has dropped rapidly since the 1980s, the neighborhood still retains an Italian character with many Italian restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that line Columbus Avenue and Washington Square.[citation needed]

Religious institutions and sites[edit]

  • The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, the city's namesake, is located on Vallejo Street.[citation needed]
  • Known as "The Italian Cathedral of the West", Saints Peter and Paul Church is located on the north side of Filbert Street in front of Washington Square. Joe DiMaggio married his first wife there, and came for photos after his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Saints Peter and Paul is considered a San Francisco landmark and an emblematic tie to the neighborhood's Italian American past.[citation needed] It offers a weekly mass in Italian every Sunday at 11:45 a.m., and attracts visitors annually from around the world.[citation needed]

Secular institutions and sites[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°48′1.04″N 122°24′36.66″W / 37.8002889°N 122.4101833°W / 37.8002889; -122.4101833