North Beach, San Francisco, California

North Beach, San Francisco, California

North Beach is a neighborhood in the northeast of San Francisco adjacent to Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf. It has a primarily Italian flavor. North Beach is sheltered from ocean breezes by Russian Hill to the west and often enjoys sunny days when much of the city is shrouded in fog.

The American Planning Association (APA) has named North Beach as one of ten 'Great Neighborhoods in America':cite web
title = North Beach: Authentic Character Is Intact 150 Years Later
publisher = American Planning Association
date = 2007-Oct-02
url =
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-10-16

Mention North Beach and what comes to mind is a mix of images and contrasts: arts, crafts, and jazz festivals; and a storied history involving known writers and musicians, movie sets and nightclubs. Added to this are several historical landmarks; a compact layout that makes walking enjoyable and easy; and a strong commitment to keeping businesses and stores independently owned and operated. Residents have fought to keep North Beach this way, and will continue to play an essential role in preserving this character.cite web
title = News Release: North Beach Selected One of 10 Great Neighborhoods in America
publisher = American Planning Association
date = 2007-Oct-02
url =
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-10-16

Location and description

North Beach is a San Francisco, California neighborhood bounded by the former Barbary Coast, now Jackson Square, and the Financial District south of Broadway (except North Beach institutions extend down Columbus to Washington and Montgomery, where the Black Cat originally was), Chinatown to the southwest of Columbus below Green, and then Russian Hill to the west, Telegraph Hill to the east and Fisherman's Wharf at Bay Street to the north.

Typical intersections are Union and Columbus, the southwest corner of Washington Square, Grant Avenue and Vallejo, location of Caffe Trieste, Mason and Francisco, places for much shopping and dining.

The somewhat compact layout of the neighborhood consists of three-story buildings painted in light colors dating from the 1920s, when people rebuilt after the earthquake and fire of 1906. The weather is typically San Franciscan: moderate, with occasional sunny hours between noon, after the morning fog burns off, and four, before the fog starts rolling back in from the Pacific Ocean.


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 soil years ago.

This neighborhood, particularly on Broadway east of Columbus, was infamous until fairly recently as home to many of the city's striptease clubs. Many of the sex-related businesses seen in Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry movies, Paul Schrader's Hardcore and TV's The Streets of San Francisco have been converted to other, more mainstream uses. The Condor Club, on the corner of Columbus and Broadway, was opened in 1964 as America's first topless bar. It later became a lobster restaurant, then a New-Orleans seafood/jazz bar; now, again, it is a topless bar. The Lusty Lady, a peep-show establishment, is notable as the world's only worker cooperative strip club. The Broadway strip was also home to the Mabuhay Gardens, the Stone and On Broadway nightclubs, which were important venues in the punk rock scene of the late 1970s to mid-1980s. By the late 1990s, however, the economic facts of life asserted themselves and the area's diverse nightlife became limited to those places that could afford to stay in business.


There is a street fair on Grant Avenue on Father's Day and a parade along Columbus Avenue to Aquatic Park around Columbus Day. There is a National Shrine at Vallejo and Columbus and St. Peter and Paul Church on Filbert north of Washington Square. The Powell Mason cable car line ends in the outer portion of North Beach where there is no beach.

North Beach is an Italian neighborhood.

An alleyway off of Columbus between Kearny and Broadway is named for Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac, who once lived there and frequented the famous City Lights Bookstore on the corner of Columbus and Broadway as well as the numerous nearby bars and coffee shops. Baseball legend Joe Dimaggio grew up in the neighborhood and briefly returned to live there with his wife Marilyn Monroe. Prominent trial attorney Tony Serra has his office near the corner of Columbus and Broadway.

The San Francisco Art Institute is located in the Northern end of North Beach, on Russian Hill, while the Academy of Art University has several buildings in the area, including one along Columbus Street and one across Pier 39.


*Caesar's Restaurant
*Caffé Roma
*Caffè Greco
*Caffè Macaroni
*Caffè Puccini
*Caffè Sport
*Caffè Trieste
*E' Tutto Qua
*Fior d'Italia
*Il Pollaio
*Mama's on Washington Square
*Mara's bakery
*Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store and Café
*Melt Cafe
*Mona Lisa Ristorante
*North Beach Restaurant
*Panta Rei
*Pasta Pomodoro
*Peña Pachamama
*Ristorante Volare
*Rose Pistola
*Stella's Pastry
*Steps of Rome and Trattoria
*Trattoria Pinocchio

Bars and clubs

*Avenue G
*Cigar Bar & Grill
*Gino & Carlo's
*Giordano Bros.
*Grant and Green
*Hawaii West
*Jazz at Pearl's
*La Trappe
*Northstar @ Powell and Green
*O'reilly's Irish Bar & Grill
*Peña Pachamama
*Rogue Public Ale House
*Savoy Tivoli
*The Bamboo Hut
*The Boardroom
*The Crow Bar
*The Purple Onion
*The Saloon
*Tosca Cafe

Residents past and present

*Joseph L. Alioto
*Enrico Banducci
*Juana Briones
*Francis Ford Coppola
*Joe Dimaggio
*Lawrence Ferlinghetti
*Amadeo Giannini
*Allen Ginsberg
*Jens Hoffmann
*Janis Joplin
*Bob Kaufman
*Philip Kaufman
*Jack Kerouac
*Philip Lamantia
*Eric "Big Daddy" Nord
*Wayne Wang

Films featuring North Beach

*"Barbary Coast" (1935)
*"Dirty Harry" (1971)
*"Magnum Force" (1973), referenced
*"Hardcore" (1979) concluding sequence
*"No Small Affair" (1984)
*"Another 48 Hours" (1990)
*"So I Married an Axe Murderer" (1993)
*"EdTV" (1999)
*"North Beach" (2000)
*"Sweet November" (2001)
*"The Wedding Planner" (2001)
*"The Sweetest Thing" (2002)
*"Twisted" (2004), directed by local resident Philip Kaufman
*"Just Like Heaven" (2005)
*"Four Christmases" (2008)

ee also

49-Mile Scenic Drive

External links

* [ North Beach Interactive Neighborhood
* [ North Beach Yahoo Maps]
* [ Guided photo tour]
* [ The Chronicle's standing article about North Beach]
* [ North Beach Neighbors a San Francisco Neighborhood Organization]
* [ "Surrounded by Sound: Aurally Exploring the Barbary Coast"] at en fuego magazine


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