North Beach, the early days, was an actual beach, a landfill dating back to the middle of the 19th century. Warehouses, fishing wharves, and docks were then built on the newly formed shoreline (top photo). Due to the proximity of the docks, the southern half of the neighborhood south of Broadway was home of the infamous Barbary Coast.
Washington Square was one of the first parks designated in San Francisco, established in 1847(bottom photos). Grant Avenue is the oldest street in San Francisco. It has had other names prior to becoming “Grant” in 1906 such as the Street of the Founding and Dupont Street. Upper Grant, as the locals refer to it, is the center of many cafes and vintage boutiques including Café Trieste and The Saloon, which date back to 1861.
North Beach Early History:
After the 1906 earthquake and fire, Germans, Russians, Eastern Europeans moved out permanently while Italian migration into the neighborhood continued. The Italian influence on North Beach peaked between the two World Wars when over 60,000 of its residents claimed Italian ancestry and five Italian language newspapers circulated the neighborhood. By the 1920s, North Beach was predominantly Italian and known as “Little Italy,” creating the character of the neighborhood that still exists today.
For more fun tidbits on this district of San Francisco, scroll to the bottom of this page and click on “North Beach”. This area was featured in the historical fiction novel, Stumptown Daze. For reviews, sample chapters and historical photos, click on “Novels” at the top.