Castro District


This 1920s streetcar suburb, with its own underground railway station, sits at the base of three roller-coaster steep hills. Most know it for its fame as one of the nation’s first gay havens—an island of resistance against persecution and violence. It was also the home base of the martyred progressive politician Harvey Milk, whose camera store was at 575 Castro St. The location is marked with a plaque.

The neighborhood’s pride and its heart: the towering Castro Theater (1922). In its time, it was only a medium-sized neighborhood picture show place. In our time, it’s a gilded monument of the era before multiplexes. The theater is well worth a visit, and the ever-rotating schedule of shows ensures that there’s something for everyone from art-film fanciers to old-musical lovers.

The area's bars are still solidly gay and the restaurants almost universally chic, but the tiny shops on the theater side of Castro Street carry irreplaceable knickknacks and objects d’art.

Note that the Castro District was outside the line of the post-earthquake fire that destroyed so much of San Francisco in 1906. Thus, the area is outstanding for walkers because of hilltop views, small but perfectly kept front-yard gardens and countless beautifully restored Victorian houses.

Explore Castro District: Restaurants | Bars and Clubs | Real Estate