Mission Dolores



Definition of cultural diversity: The variety of human societies or cultures in a specific region. San Francisco's neighborhoods certainly fit this description. Here are just a few:

The Castro | Chinatown | Fillmore District

Haight Ashbury | Mission | North Beach
| Tenderloin


The Castro, home to a large gay and lesbian community, is know as the "gay mecca." It's a great example of how San Francisco welcomes those looking for an alternate lifestyle.


For decades, San Francisco's Chinatown was the largest community of Chinese outside of Asia. Chinatown's residents have created a thriving community that retains much of its Chinese culture and is the second most popular destination for tourists (after the Golden Gate Bridge).


The Fillmore District is one of San Francisco's most diverse neighborhoods. In addition to being a predominately African American neighborhood, it is also home to Japantown. After the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, many of San Francisco's Japanese American community relocated to the Fillmore District since it had been largely untouched by the disaster. In the 1920's and 1930's, Japantown covered more than twenty blocks. During World War II, many Japanese American residents were forced into internment camps never to return to their old neighborhood. During the war, many African Americans from the South migrated to the district. It became known as the "Harlem of the West," and was one of the world's leading jazz centers. In the 1960's & 1970's, it became a famous rock 'n roll mecca. Three of rock's most famous venues of the period were located in the Fillmore District: the Matrix, Winterland, and the Fillmore.



Just the name of this neighborhood conjures up images of '60s hippie culture. Although most of the old "head" shops are now exclusive boutiques and vintage-clothing stores, one can still feel "the vibes" of the old Haight with its flower-power, peace and love, acid-dropping, tie-dye-wearing, and incense burning. There are still shops with names like Dreams of Kathmandu, Pipe Dreams and The Love of Ganesha.


A predominately Latino neighborhood, the Mission District is San Francisco's oldest neighborhood, dating back to the completion of Mission Dolores in 1776.  During the 1940's, the area experienced a large influx of Mexican immigrants followed by Central and South Americans in the 1980's & 90's. The jingling bells of Mexican ice cream vendors' carts blend with the sounds of throbbing Norteño music. Carlos Santana is from this neighborhood. The Mission's flourishing mural scene owes much to the Mexican Mural movement of the 20's. The Mission District is home to taquerias, pupuserias, produce markets, Salvadoran bakeries, and Latino music stores.



North Beach, also known as Little Italy, is full of wonderful Italian restaurants, delicatessens, and bakeries. During the late 1800's, many Italian fishermen settled here. Joe DiMaggio, the son of a fisherman, grew up in North Beach. The heart of Little Italy is Saints Peter & Paul Church (also known as the Italian Cathedral). Located in the center of North Beach is Washington Square Park. The world's largest bank, Bank of America, began in North Beach as the Bank of Italy, founded by A.P. Giannini. North Beach is also famous for being the home of City Lights Bookstore, founded by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.


During the last thirty years, many immigrants from Southeast Asia have made the Tenderloin neighborhood their home. There are now more than 250 Vietnamese American-owned businesses in this neighborhood including: restaurants, tailors, jewelers, acupuncturists, doctors, and dentists. The Tenderloin hosts an annual Tet Festival, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration, which draws thousands of people to the neighborhood every year.


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      Linda Flanagan
(360) 555-1212