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Three Historic San Francisco Neighborhoods and the History that Defines Them

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By Phineas Upham

San Francisco is one of the most rapidly evolving places in California. Shaped over time by gold rushes, missionaries and technology, San Francisco’s history often gets lost, or sometimes built over during these transitions. Creativity and commerce flow from this place, but much of it would not be possible without reflecting upon what makes the area great. More than the financial district, or the chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf, here are three historic neighborhoods that encompass San Francisco.

The Dog Patch

The Dogpatch area was traditionally industrial with a light touch of residential. Until the 90s, that largely held true. Previously known as “Butchertown”, the name seems to stem from a colloquialism suggesting dogs were waiting around for scraps of meat. Today, it’s become an upper-middle class neighborhood with warehouses that have been converted to lofts.

The Castro

Named for Jose Castro, who was a Californio who stood in opposition to US occupation, the street has become known as the gay village. It’s changed a little over time, but the area and its financial district are the center for the gay community in San Francisco. These men settled in The Castro after receiving dishonorable discharges during World War II due to their sexuality.


Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest Chinatown in North America. It has been a cultural epicenter for Chinese immigrants coming to San Francisco since it was founded in 1848. Over time, Chinatown also became a tourist attraction, which stimulated the local economy and helps the area remain mostly self-sustaining. Chinatown has two hospitals, a number of parks and squares, its own post office and infrastructure.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Facebook page.