Western Addition, San Francisco
|Neighborhood of San Francisco|
A southern view from Alta Plaza Park, which is in the Pacific Heights neighborhood. Most of the valley in the central part of this image is in the Western Addition neighborhood. In the background on the right can be seen Sutro Tower, which is west of Twin Peaks. The darker hill to the left and slightly more in the foreground is Buena Vista Heights, which is directly south of Haight Street (between the Haight-Fillmore and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods). Cathedral Hill is visible to the left, just west of Van Ness Avenue and north of Hayes Valley.
|• Board of Supervisors||London Breed|
|• State Assembly||Tom Ammiano (D)|
|• State Senate||Mark Leno (D)|
|• U.S. House||Nancy Pelosi (D)|
|• Total||1.20 km2 (0.463 sq mi)|
|• Land||1.20 km2 (0.463 sq mi)|
|• Density||10,780/km2 (27,919/sq mi)|
|ZIP Code||94102, 94109, 94115, 94117|
Historically, the Western Addition was first platted during the 1850s as a result of the Van Ness Ordinance. This large tract encompassed some 500 blocks running west from Larkin Street (the city's previous western boundary) to Divisadero street. Hence the name "Western Addition." The area was initially used for small-scale farming, but following the invention of the cable car during the 1870s, the Western Addition developed as a Victorian streetcar suburb. It survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake with its Victorian-style buildings largely intact.
Today, the term Western Addition is generally used in two ways: to denote the development's original geographic area, or to denote the eastern portion of the neighborhood (also called the Fillmore District) that was redeveloped in the 1950s.
Those who use the term in the former sense generally consider its boundaries to be Van Ness Avenue on the east, Masonic on the west, California Street on the north, and Fell or Oak Street on the south. From there, it is usually divided into smaller neighborhoods such as Lower Pacific Heights, Cathedral Hill, Japantown, the Fillmore, Hayes Valley, Alamo Square, Anza Vista, and North Panhandle.
The San Francisco Association of Realtors defines the term more closely to the latter sense, treating it as "District 6D" (not to be confused with Board of Supervisors districts; much of the Western Addition is in supervisors District 5), bounded by Geary Boulevard in the north, McAllister and Fulton streets, and Golden Gate Avenue on the south, Van Ness Avenue in the east, and Divisadero Street on the west. By this definition, the Western Addition is roughly synonymous with the Fillmore and Cathedral Hill neighborhoods.
After the Second World War, the Western Addition — particularly the Fillmore District — became a population base and a cultural center for San Francisco's African American community. Since then, urban renewal schemes and San Francisco's changing demographics have led to major changes in the economic and ethnic makeup of the neighborhood, as the Fillmore District suffered from crime and poverty while many other districts underwent significant gentrification.
Since the early 1990s, the Western Addition has undergone massive gentrification. Thousands of the neighborhood's African-American residents have been pushed out, in part due to of the city's housing prices and cost of living.
Attractions and characteristics
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The architecture of portions of the Western Addition (particularly the Fillmore district) is markedly different from the well-known Victorian structures that dominate most of the eastern and central areas of San Francisco. During the executive mandates for urban renewal in the 1940s, thousands of livable, Victorian-style homes and businesses owned by the city's working class African American residents were seized by the government under eminent domain and razed to make room for government sponsored housing projects.
Prior to the US involvement in WWII, the Western Addition was home to substantial Japanese-American and African-American communities. The two groups lived relatively harmoniously until the US involvement in World War II. Following the anti-Japanese sentiment following Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, thousands of Japanese-American families were sent to internment camps. While interned, the neighborhood underwent significant changes.
Geary Boulevard was erected to create a clear division between the district's working class section, and its more upwardly mobile and decidedly middle-class Pacific Heights neighborhood. Upon their return from internment camps, Japanese-Americans came back to the Western Addition to find that their once prosperous homes and businesses had been razed to make way for the Geary Expressway. In lieu of privately housed businesses in the district's Victorian-style buildings, Japanese-American culture and business enterprise relocated to the Japantown Mall and beyond.
Government and infrastructure