6.2 out of 10

Central Waterfront

Ranked 78th best neighborhood in San Francisco
37.7584987217248 -122.38549047467
Great for
  • Internet Access
  • Public Transport
  • Resale or Rental Value
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Parks & Recreation
Not great for
  • Shopping Options
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Singles
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 1/5
2yrs+

"For Work and Play"

Okay, for the most part, this is not really a place where anyone would want to live. I actually work fairly close to this area and so I find myself down here every so often—occasionally after work and sometimes during lunch breaks.

This may seem like a strange place to go for lunch, at first. It really looks just like an industrial area. In fact when Hunters Point was a big naval base this was where a lot of the industries that supplied them were housed. Now with the naval base gone this continues to be an industrial area. You might say that it is now SF’s workshop—at least in terms of some of its physical creations. These are the places that once gave high school grads a step up into the middle class by giving them steady work. Now, with automation there are a lot fewer of those here though there is still a fair amount of industry.

Beyond the car dismantlers, mechanics, and car rental places that you will find here, you will also find a number of businesses here that cater to the needs of SF businesses, such as…well… caterers, and other kinds of suppliers like the Balloon Lady—a company that arranges balloons for galas and events. There are also camera rental places and Graphic Sportswear—a company that designs and produces professional looking company shirts (they did my company’s snazzy apparel—as a matter of fact I’m wearing one of their shirts now).

There are even some companies that produce specialized equipment for biotech here, like the electrophoresis maker, Hoefer. (In case you are wondering it is a machine that helps separate DNA.)

All that said, those are not the usual reasons why I come into this neighborhood. The main thing that draws me here are the restaurants and lounges. Here are a few of my favorites in no particular order:

The Dogpatch Saloon: Great little dive that sometimes has live jazz.

The classy Yield Wine Bar: Nice for intimate little get-togethers.

The classic Serpentine: Great for food and cocktails.

Moshi Moshi: For Sushi

Royal Hawaiian: If you want something a little more unusual.

In other words this is a great place to work and play. Though you can’t really live here. Live in neighboring Portrero Hill instead—at least if you can afford it.
Pros
  • Good Work Suppliers
  • Cool Restuarants
  • Great Wine and Cocktail Lounges
Cons
  • Ugly Industrial Area
  • Dangerous at Night
  • Not for Living
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Desrted but some gems"

When I think of the Central Waterfront, I mostly think of the Dogpatch neighborhood. But, I think the Dogpatch still needs more time to develop. Once the population of SF grows a little bit more, I think more people will actually move to this area. Right now, it feels a bit deserted. Things can get weirdly creepy on Illinois sometimes. There are occasionally homeless men milling about, or other dirty-looking men hopping fences to fish. I prefer not to walk here alone when it gets dark, because there isn't anyone around to help you if you get into trouble.

This is supposedly becoming an artsy district. I don't think I would be able to tell that from it's appearance. I only believe that sentiment because I did work for an art studio located here. Otherwise, the place looks industrial.

As you walk south on 3rd Street, the neighborhood gets better and there's more to see (there are even people there!). There are some important gems to go to in this area. Firstly, you have to go to Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, which is the best ice cream shop in the city. Afterward, head to the Hard Knox Cafe across the street.
Pros
  • best ice cream shop there
Cons
  • not many people around
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Students
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
2yrs+

"Undeveloped and Industrial"

Located on the southeastern edge of San Francisco, Central Waterfront’s residents pride themselves on their waterfront view. However, the neighborhood does not offer any beaches, just docks and industrialized warehouses. It is predominately a white lower to middle class neighborhood, with many families and moderately old singles living within their means.

Historically, the neighborhood served as an industrial hub and port for many blank ships. Today, the area has re-emerged into a rather aspiring community boasting new loft style condominiums and renovated Victorian houses. With these new changes, the neighborhood has enough potential to become a legitimately affluent San Francisco district. It already gets great weather (compared to most San Francisco districts) and its proximity to AT&T park (5 minute drive) make the neighborhood worth a second look. However, Central Waterfront still needs time. Cafes, delis, old style saloons, lounges doubling as bars, it’s proximity to AT&T park (5 minute drive) are all part of the neighborhood’s makeup. However, the commercial area is still a work in progress. Many of its delis, cafes and local watering holes are nothing to brag about. The neighborhood is somewhat under served by public transportation. Those who live in the area typically work downtown (buses 22 and 48 head north and south) or take the Caltrain down the San Francisco peninsula. The streets are mostly deserted so parking is relatively easy. Crime is of moderate concern in the area with disturbing the peace being the most likely culprit.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"Dogpatch: To Hell and Back"

So, how did Dogpatch, the town made famous in the “L’il Abner” comic strip, come to denote a small rectangle of ragtag blocks and buildings in the Central Waterfront just below Potrero Hill? Could it be the down-and-out look of so many abandoned factories? The rust-encrusted reminders of what was, a hundred years ago, a booming shipbuilding hub? The “dogged” perseverance of its longtime residents and businesses, who have stuck it out here for longer than most of their counterparts in the city? Or is it something else altogether, not at all related to Al Capp’s hillbilly characters—the packs of dogs who used to roam the area and its meatpacking plants, looking for scraps?

Whatever its origins, it’s an irresistible name for such an overlooked place. This agglomeration of 19th-century brick warehouses, defunct factory buildings, and historic working-class homes that served the once-busy Central Waterfront is one of those formerly forgotten neighborhoods that, thanks to urban pioneers, is getting a makeover. Though many locals and their preservation-minded supporters are skeptical, Dogpatch today is becoming an oddly desirable place to live. Not for everyone, certainly, but everyone who has visited finds it interesting in one way or another.

Originally called “Potrero Point,” then “Dutchman’s Flat,” and cut off from the city by Mission Bay (which was a shallow, fetid marsh in the late-19th century), the area came into its own after a railroad bridge across Mission Bay linked it to the post-Gold Rush downtown of still-booming San Francisco. In the decades of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, this compact area was among the largest manufacturing centers on the West Coast, with ironworks and light industry supplying a growing city and state with the tools of commerce. Because of its isolated location, workers needed housing nearby, so dozens of homes and flats went up within short walking distance of the factories, creating one of San Francisco’s first (and one of its few remaining) mixed industrial/residential neighborhoods.

The neighborhood was spared the fire that followed the earthquake of 1906, and its importance to rebuilding San Francisco was pivotal. But over time (and particularly after World War II ended, presaging the decline of the robust shipbuilding industry), Dogpatch lost its industrial base, as businesses either moved or shut down. The Central Waterfront (as the larger area is known) was then isolated a second time from the rest of the city by the construction of the elevated Southern Embarcadero Freeway (I-280) and deteriorated into an out-and-out eyesore, more reminiscent of post-industrial Milwaukee than Baghdad by the Bay. At one point in the early 1960s, the city considered bulldozing it for redevelopment.

But a resurgence in light industry came in the 1970s, in the form of a clothing manufacturer (Esprit), which took over an old, rambling, brick wine warehouse. Other businesses followed, giving the district a new hold on life. That led to a number of entrepreneurs, artists, and young professionals moving here as well. They transformed the rundown Victorian and Edwardian cottages and modest working-class homes, bringing a sort of rough charm to the neighborhood. Today, sections of Tennessee and Minnesota streets between 19th and 22nd are showcases of their handiwork, with brightly colored, restored wooden facades proudly facing the street. A number of these homes were built in the late 1800s by the residents themselves, working from plans by populist architect Jon Cotter Pelton Jr. that were published free for anyone to use in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. They are among the reasons Dogpatch was named a historic district by the city in 2003.

By the mid-1990s, development fervor gripped the area, as dozens of live/work lofts had gone up, with dozens more planned. The rapid gentrification spawned a watchdog group, the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association, which works with various city and private organizations to preserve and protect the area and plan for its future. Another neighborhood group has cooperated with the city’s Recreation and Park Department to secure Esprit Park, a two-square-block green at 20th and Minnesota that formerly belonged to Esprit (the aforementioned clothing company) and was transferred to city jurisdiction in 2001. The Omega Boys Club, a social/educational outreach to at-risk youth in the greater Potrero Hill area, occupies the oldest standing schoolhouse in San Francisco, the Irving M. Scott School, built in 1895 at 1060 Tennessee. The Hells Angels even have a clubhouse here (at Tennessee and 23rd).

Though barely 1,000 people occupy Dogpatch today, the neighborhood is expected to absorb twice that in the next decade as the hospital/medical/university projects in adjoining Mission Bay are completed—to say nothing of the thousands more who might arrive with the proposed redevelopment of Pier 70, the 69-acre expanse of Central Waterfront brownfields that the Port of San Francisco plans to transform into a mixed-use area of shoreline parks and open space as well as offices and business parks for high-tech companies.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the neighborhood is comprised 70 percent by whites, 15 percent by Asians, and the remaining 15 percent by African Americans and people of two or more races. They are for the most part upper middle class (median household annual income is about $90,000), although the majority (60 percent) rent their homes.

Though commercial establishments dot this mixed-use area, 22nd Street is the neighborhood’s center of retail attention: a number of cafes (including the popular Piccino), bars (Dogpatch Saloon), and restaurants (Serpentine, Hard Knox Café) cluster on or near the intersection of 22nd and Third. There’s also a salsa nightclub (Café Cocomo) and a sushi restaurant (Moshi Moshi) near the 18th Street end of the neighborhood.

Public transportation includes the increasingly popular “T” streetcar, which travels north and south along Third Street, linking the neighborhood to Mission Bay, the AT&T ballpark, and downtown office buildings. Two east/west crosstown buses, the Nos. 22 and 48, terminate at 20th Street and Third. There is also a Caltrain commuter station at 22nd and Pennsylvania.

Parking is relatively easy and available, although the city’s Department of Parking and Traffic has designated some four-hour limits on certain streets. Residents can obtain “X” parking permits for use in the central area (Minnesota, Indiana, and Tennessee between 18th and 23rd).

The area has no public or private schools, though children can either walk or take the bus to public schools on Potrero Hill: Starr King on the south side and Daniel Webster on the north (both got a 2 out of 10 GreatSchools rating). There’s also an alternative junior high/high school on DeHaro Street, International Studies Academy (which earned a 3 out of 10 GreatSchools rating). Additionally, Live Oak School (K-8) is an independent elementary school on Mariposa, near Arkansas Street.

Crime here is moderate and centers mostly on property (burglary and vehicle theft) and quality of life (disturbing the peace, much of it from the area’s nightclubs and bars, and graffiti). Car break-ins are becoming a serious issue, with occurrences highest around the Café Cocomo salsa nightclub near 18th Street. There are occasional assaults in any three-month period, and there have been two homicides reported in the last three years.

Real-estate prices remain somewhat depressed after the recent economic downturn, with condos and live/work lofts experiencing the greatness softness. A historic, two-bedroom/one-bathroom home on Minnesota Street recently listed for $800,000, while a new one-bedroom, 1.5 bathroom condo was going for $455,000. Rentals, though rare, are considered a good deal; studios are virtually nonexistent, but a two-bedroom/two-bathroom condo off 22nd Street was recently listed for $3,000 a month.

Even though it is becoming a hot place to live (figuratively and literally—the neighborhood has the sunniest weather in San Francisco, with less fog than any other spot in San Francisco, according to U.S. Weather Service data), Dogpatch clings to its working-class past. It is a neighborhood where artists and police officers, delivery and bus drivers, engine makers and winemakers, young singles and families all call home. Besides, as a local café’s website asks, “Where else can Baptist ministers rub elbows with Hells Angels?”
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"Bland, oh and water"

Central Waterfront is a very bland neighborhood. From my point of view, Central Waterfront is much of a neighborhood—in some perspectives. Central Waterfront is known to be a big industrialized neighborhood/area, however half of Central Waterfront does consist of residential homes. When you hear “Waterfront” you may probably think of nice piers overlooking the bay waters, true, you do get a pretty good view, however it is nothing compared to the view you get from the Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and other piers around that general area. This is because of the industrialized feel you get in this neighborhood, which in my opinion, kind of ruins the moment. Although I haven’t particularly visited this neighborhood much, the feel I’ve gotten from it is not that great, nothing special or anything eye-catching, just another neighborhood I’d say. However, if you’re into neighborhoods like this, by all means, try and find a residence here. In some respects, Central Waterfront is a great neighborhood, you’re in the waters, fresh air every morning, and a chill neighborhood to be in. There are some bars and restaurants here and there as well as markets and corner stores. One of the downfalls living in the Central Waterfront I’d say is that the homes lie right between the 280 and 101 freeway, traffic noise is a definite expectation here.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"A historic neighborhood with an industrial edge"

You are right next to the waterfront in Central Waterfront, but at the same time, it’s not exactly a great neighborhood. This is still an industrial neighborhood, but on the plus side Central Waterfront is where Burning Man is located. It may be an interesting spot to consider if you are an artist looking for a loft space. Right now it seems as though this neighborhood is having somewhat of a revival.

Central Waterfront hosts the part of the city called Dogpatch. This is about 9 square blocks with architecturally interesting buildings that were initially built by and for workers in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Because the fire didn’t impact the neighborhood in 1906, you will find architecture older that that which you will find in most of San Francisco. In fact, the workers who lived in these little houses built many of them by hand. You will also find other old buildings in Central Waterfront like the oldest public school building Irving M. Scott school and old firehouses.

I can’t promise anything, but buying in this district could be a great investment. After all, you are on the water, and you really are conveniently located to downtown San Francisco and the financial district. However, if you do move to this neighborhood, just prepare to drive out of Central Waterfront to get to entertainment and recreational activities.
Recommended for
  • Singles
2/5
2yrs+

"No place to walk the dog"

Central Waterfront is a transforming neighborhood that over time has developed from vacant lots to scattered housing clusters. The community boasts plenty of residential lofts and work-lofts throughout.

The boundary around Central Waterfront neighborhood is Mariposa Street to Islais Creek and then from I-280 east to the Bay. Some decent transit systems do operate in the area, but there is much more planning on the way and the transit stops, including the Caltrain station, provide an uninviting waiting environment. Journey by foot or bike pedal is also a rough experience and not recommended.

The community is working together to develop Central Waterfront even more, but as of today, it’s best to journey out of the neighborhood to find your best eateries, salons, and boutiques.
Recommended for
  • Singles
4/5
2yrs+

"Up and Coming"

With the installation of the new 3rd street light rail, this part of town is really starting to pick up. The Dog Patch area has a few bars down near 3rd between 20th and Cesar Chavez, and who can ignore the growing cultural mecca Burning Man headquarters has?

For those who are looking for artist's spaces to work in with high ceilings and industrial elevators, check out the spaces along 3rd street on the waterfront side. There is also some great housing to be found between 280 and 3rd street, including some fun loft spaces.

And for those who like to get out and interact with the community, check out Cafe Cocomo which has great events all year round. Not to be missed is the Decompression Street Faire held annually on Columbus Day Weekend (on the Sunday I think) -- check BurningMan.com for details.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees

Travelling to Central Waterfront?

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Best Streets in Central Waterfront

1

Indiana St

3/5
"Indiana Street is an adult entertainment spot!"
37.7562385317079 -122.391029099587

Unranked Streets in Central Waterfront

"Decaying industrial street, interesting for urban explorers"
37.7523600000196 -122.384815999453
37.7568736530606 -122.385540013515
"Illinois Street Warehouse District"
37.757621893394 -122.387275350057

Maryland St

2.5/5
"Dirty industrial street, but has nice views."
37.7524632501276 -122.382884748186

Tennessee St

3.5/5
"i heart dogpatch"
37.7566563399246 -122.389132697855

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