Sunset District, San Francisco, California

Sunset District, San Francisco, California

The Sunset District is a neighborhood in the west-central part of San Francisco, California, United States, that is primarily residential and is built along a grid pattern. It was one of the last areas of San Francisco to be developed, and most of its homes and buildings date from the 1920s through the 1950s, with the fastest rate of construction occurring during the 1930s and 1940s (although parts of the Inner Sunset were developed beginning in the 1890s) fact|date=June 2008.


Golden Gate Park forms the neighborhood's northern border and the Pacific Ocean (or, more specifically, the long, flat strand of beach known as Ocean Beach) forms its western border. The Sunset District's southern and eastern borders are not as clearly defined, but there is a general consensus that the neighborhood extends no further than Sigmund Stern Grove and Sloat Boulevard in the south and no further east than the Parnassus campus of the University of California, San Francisco and Laguna Honda Hospital. Prior to the residential and commercial development of the Sunset District, much of the area was covered by sand dunes and was originally referred to by 19th century San Franciscans as "the Outside Lands". [cite web |url= |title=The Changing Physical Landscape of the Sunset District: The Late 1800s through the Mid-1900s |accessdate=2008-06-21 |last=Ungaretti |first=Lorri |year=2004 |work=Encyclopedia of San Francisco |publisher=San Francisco Museum & Historical Society]

The Sunset District is further divided into two separate neighborhoods, the Inner Sunset and the Outer Sunset. The commercial area of the Inner Sunset is centered around Irving Street between 7th and 11th Avenues. The Outer Sunset is generally considered to begin at 19th Avenue and to extend for approximately 30 blocks to Ocean Beach. The southern half of the Outer Sunset is recognized as a separate neighborhood known as Parkside. The Parkside District extends south of Ortega Street (or at certain points, Noriega Street) to Sloat Boulevard and west of 19th Avenue to the Great Highway (including part of Ocean Beach).


The Sunset District is the largest district within the city of San Francisco, California. Districts in San Francisco are sections of the city larger than neighborhoods, but distinct enough (at least when they were initially identified) to be set apart by name from another district.

The Sunset comprises much of the west-central section of San Francisco. Its northern border is Golden Gate Park, western border Ocean Beach, southern border Sloat Boulevard, and its eastern border is roughly at 7th Avenue. All six lanes of State Route 1 run directly through the middle of the Sunset District along 19th Avenue, neatly bisecting the district into two sub-districts—the Inner Sunset (east of 19th Avenue) and the Outer Sunset (from 19th Avenue to Ocean Beach). Those two areas are very different in terms of demographics and commercial development.

The western part of the Sunset borders the cold north Californian Pacific Ocean coastline, so it tends to get much of the fog San Francisco is famous for. The Sunset is one of the more residential districts in San Francisco. The area, particularly the Outer Sunset, has several assets to the people who live there: the best-performing schools in the cityfact|date=June 2008; a low crime ratefact|date=June 2008; plenty of parking (a rarity in San Francisco); and great ocean views. Sand can be found on roadways and driveways within the first 5-10 blocks east of Ocean Beach, carried by Pacific Ocean winds.

The commercial area along Irving Street is served by Muni Metro's N Judah line. The neighborhood's property values have risen along with those of other San Francisco districts, most spectacularly during the late 1990s. Wood-frame and stucco homes of 1,000-1,500 square feet, originally built in the 1930s and 1940s for $6,000-$10,000, now sell for prices that often reach $950,000 and beyond.

The Inner Sunset is now a popular evening destination, primarily due to the influx of young transplants with disposable income. It has a diverse mix of restaurants along 9th Avenue and Irving Street (the intersection of which is the focal point of the area). The fortunes of the Inner Sunset have only risen in the last decade starting with the sudden influx of young transplants from all over the United States during the late '90s. Prior to the dot-com boom of the late '90s, smaller service businesses such as laundromats and grocery stores dominated the Inner Sunset's commercial character. The population of the Outer Sunset is approximately 50% Asian, so the commercial development in that area tends to cater to Asian, and especially Chinese, interests.

Demographics and subcultures

At least half of the Sunset's residents are Asian American (mostly Chinese American) fact|date=June 2008, a result of a demographic shift that began in the late 1960s and accelerated from the 1980s as Asian immigration to San Francisco increased dramatically and much of the original, nearly exclusively white, heavily Irish American population of the Sunset moved to other neighborhoods and outlying suburban areas such as West Portal and Twin Peaks fact|date=June 2008. A major commercial area of the Sunset District, Irving Street between 19th Avenue and 24th Avenue, is today lined with businesses catering to Asian Americans, with additional commercial areas filled with Asian grocery stores and restaurants in other parts of the Sunset District as well, such as on Taraval Street and Noriega Street west of 19th Avenue. In addition, there is still a significant Irish American and Irish minority in the neighborhood and there are several Irish pubs in the Sunset. The Sunset also contains three synagogues and several churches, mosques, and Buddhist temples.
Asian American population in southwest San Francisco]

The strip near the Pacific Ocean has a notable population of surfers who take advantage of the sometimes excellent surf conditions of Ocean Beach.

The Outer Sunset is regarded by the city's political observers as being one of the more conservative communities in San Francisco [cite news |first=Phillip |last=Matier |authorlink= |coauthors=Andrew Ross |title=S.F. left wing losing hope in Ammiano mayoral prospects |url= |work= |publisher= |date=2002-12-16 |accessdate=2008-06-21] [cite news |first=Betsey |last=Culp |authorlink= |title=District 4: Sunset surprises |url= |work=San Francisco Call |publisher= |date=2000-10-02 |accessdate=2008-06-21] Collectively, the area's residents are less likely to be in favor of gay marriage and rent control than voters in other parts of the city, and favor stricter policies toward the homeless.

The Avenues

The Sunset District and the neighboring Richmond District (on the north side of Golden Gate Park) are often collectively known as The Avenues, because the majority of both neighborhoods are spanned by numbered north-south avenues. When the city was originally laid out, the avenues were numbered from 1st to 49th and the east-west streets were lettered A to X. In 1909, to reduce confusion for mail carriers, the east-west streets and 1st Avenue and 49th Avenue were renamed. The east-west streets were named after Spanish explorers in ascending alphabetical order in a southward direction. First Avenue was renamed Arguello Boulevard and 49th Avenue was renamed La Playa Street.cite web |url= |title=Street Naming Controversy - 1909 |accessdate=2008-06-21 |last=Freeman |first=John |year=2003 |work=Encyclopedia of San Francisco |publisher=San Francisco Museum & Historical Society]

Today, the first numbered avenue is 2nd Avenue, starting one block west of Arguello Boulevard, and the last is 48th Avenue near Ocean Beach. The avenue numbers increase incrementally, with the exception that there is no 13th Avenue; instead, it is known as Funston Avenue (named for Frederick Funston, a Spanish-American War general who was sent to the city to direct its recovery from the 1906 earthquake).

The east-west streets in the Sunset are for the most part in alphabetical order. These streets are: "Lincoln, Hugo" (Inner Sunset only)", Irving, Judah, Kirkham, Lawton, Moraga, Noriega, Ortega, Pacheco, Quintara, Rivera, Santiago, Taraval, Ulloa, Vicente, Wawona, "and "Yorba". "X" was originally proposed to be "Xavier", but was changed to "Yorba" due to a pronunciation controversy.

City districts

San Francisco's eleven districts each elect a single member to the city's Board of Supervisors. Most of the central and outer sunset constitutes District 4, which has traditionally elected Chinese supervisors from the business community. The inner sunset overlaps the southern edge of the more liberal-leaning District 5, encompassing the Haight-Ashbury and Western Addition.

District 4 supervisors
*Carmen Chu 2007 - present
*Ed Jew 2006 - 2007
*Fiona Ma 2002 - 2006
*Leland Yee 1997 - 2002

District 5 supervisors
*Ross Mirkarimi 2005 - present
*Matt Gonzalez 2000 - 2005


Further reading

*cite book
last = Ungaretti
first = Lorri
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = San Francisco's Sunset District
publisher = Arcadia Publishing
date = 2003
location =
pages =
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 0-7385-2862-5

External links

* [ Inner] , [ Center and Outer Sunset] guided photo tour

*wikitravelpar|San Francisco/Sunset|Sunset District
* [ Inner] , [ Outer Sunset] Neighborhood Guide (SFGate)
* [ Sunset Beacon] , local newspaper
* [ Street Naming Controversy] How the east-west streets in the Sunset were renamed in 1909
* [ Photographs of the Sunset District, 1886-1972, at San Francisco Public Library]
* [ Western Neighborhoods Project]
* [ Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center] , youth and family community center
* [ Sunset Community Space] , wikispace for Sunset service providers and residents
* [ Sunset District Events Calendar] , local events calendar

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