4.5 out of 10

Western Addition

Ranked 84th best neighborhood in San Francisco
37.7813673022494 -122.431118314883
Great for
  • Public Transport
  • Internet Access
  • Cost of Living
  • Eating Out
  • Nightlife
Not great for
  • Parking
  • Shopping Options
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Safe & Sound
  • Lack of Traffic
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
2yrs+

"Center of the City"

I've lived in this neighborhood almost 2 years now. I'm next to Japantown so that means there's awesome sushi and Korean bbq. Safeway just a few minutes away means I can buy my groceries without a long commute. A park at Laguna & Eddy means I have green and trees nearby for a nature moment, though I'm careful not to go at night (bit of crime and homelessness to dodge). At Webster & Eddy, there's an awesome church Glad Tidings that looks like a cross-section of San Francisco. There's a school in area, so I like to see parents taking their kids to school every morning. Whenever I need to go the the beach or downtown, the 31 and 38 buses are right there for me.
Pros
  • affordable
Cons
  • homeless population
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Have to deal with drug addicts and homeless people"

I used to live in Western Addition and I wouldn't say it's a great area. The neighborhood attracts a lot of homeless people, which can bring crime and drugs with them.

On my way to work, as I would walk south on Gough, I would often see a number of drug addicts falling asleep in the park on Turk. I would also see the remnants of many smashed car windows near the intersection of Gough and Eddy. Seeing glass all over the ground was pretty much a daily occurrence. I also know that there was a shooting in the parking garage of my apartment building in 2008 that resulted in a death. The area attracts some strange people because there are s many churches in the neighborhood (it's known as Cathedral Hill). That's why there are so many homeless people. They often hang out by St. Mark's Church on the corner of Franklin and Geary.

Despite all the apparent crime, I never felt totally unsafe walking around by myself at night. I used to walk home from work at 10:30pm and the worst I would see were some intoxicated men that would loiter outside a convenience store.
Pros
  • affordable
Cons
  • homeless population
  • crime
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Yoshi's and a Bit of Danger"

This area is fairly unusual looking for SF—it is just about all apartments and what looks like community housing developments as far as I can tell. There are lots of older buildings here and a fair number of high rises. Despite all these apartments, it is surprising how many trees you find on the streets—really attractive in some spots.

Crime—Whenever you start talking about Western Addition, you have to start with crime as a consideration, given that it skirts the Tenderloin on the east. Crime is definitely much higher than in some of its neighbors—about seven times higher than Alamo Square on the south and twice as high as in Lower Pacific Heights on the north. Of course, the worst areas are near the Tenderloin, especially near the corner of Laguna and Turk where 2/3 of the crimes occur.

This all seems a little strange to me since when you drive through the area, it doesn’t seem particularly run down or dangerous. Though it does have a bit of an urban feel with lots of apartment complexes and high rises.

Rents—I’m not exactly sure why, but I can’t find a lot of apartments for rent in this area. This is strange to me, because the area is literally filled with apartments. (Perhaps, these are public housing units not listed on regular rental sites?) The apartments that I do find on the far western side of the area are fairly expensive. I found some one bedrooms for $1700 in high rises which were fairly typical. (Though I also found a studio apartment in an older building for $800.) Still seems like there should be a lot more than a handful of listings in this neighborhood.

Parks and Recreation: The open parks are nothing to write home about but there are some recreation areas, like the Hutch Community Center that is great for kids (and has good tennis courts). The Buchanan Y is here as well. So in terms of getting a work out or giving the kids some time to let out some of their excess energy, you can definitely find some places if you are willing to pay for them.

Major Landmarks—St. Mary’s Cathedral is on Van Ness. It is not one of those old style churches with flying buttresses and all that—it is a modernist deal with a strangely shaped dome—you either love it or hate it. I do both depending on how I feel that day.

Mount Zion Medical Center—a really great medical facility associated with UCSF bookmarks the church on the western end.

Restaurants and Nightlife—For restaurants and entertainment, we have to lead off with Yoshi’s. Yoshi’s is sort of live music theater that happens to serve Sushi. It is a little pricey (entrees are in the $20-$30 range so expect to spend a good $50+ per person) but definitely worth it for the live music. They focus on Jazz but they also get bands like the Gin Blossoms that play here. So it’s a pretty cool date spot. Bruno’s—part pizza place, part bar—is right across the street from Yoshi’s and much more reasonably priced—but of course, no live music.
Overall, I would say that this is probably a better place to visit than live in because of the crime worries. But if you are young and street smart you might manage alright here.
Pros
  • Yoshi's
  • Some Attractive Streets
Cons
  • Lots of Apartments
  • crime
  • homeless population
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Hipsters
  • Students
3/5
2yrs+

"Get your concert fix here!"

The best thing about this neighborhood is the Fillmore Music Hall. The Fillmore is a historic music venue that opened in 1965 and home to many big name artists in the music industry. Located on Geary Boulevard, you can't miss this great place for concerts. It's intimate and the bar is easy to get drinks from. You don't have to stand at the counter for thirty minutes waiting for one bartender to fix everyone else's drink! If you are going to a sold out show, plan on arriving two hours early and just enjoy the impeccable sound.

Also in the area is the Boom Boom Room. A place that will keep the blues alive. There are also several jazz and hip hop clubs in the neighborhood. Whatever you are in the mood for musically, you will find in this community.

For your spiritual needs, there is a wealth of African-American churches. Great community organizations and churches help to look after improving this musical neighborhood.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
3/5
2yrs+

"The Fillmore and the Church"

This area of town boasts two amazing places to enjoy in San Francisco. The first is simply a piece of architecture that is somewhat awe inspiring. This is the Church located at Gough and Geary. The arcs and curves of the structure really stand out, especially considering all the open space around it. You can see the church from lots of different spots in the city and once you've seen it, you'll be spotting it from all over town.

If you're not into architecture but you enjoy great music, the Fillmore is a music hall not to be missed. Inside has a bit of an older feel to it and the history of the place is obvious once you're inside. It isn't large, nor is it small, but it definitely has it's own unique style.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"One Place, Many Faces"

Though San Francisco today seems one of the most diverse and open cities in the United States, it was not always that way. The various ethnic groups who now share streets and neighborhoods as if it were second nature did not always do so as readily. They tended to “stick to their own” not only in business and social matters but also in terms of where they lived. If, in the late 1800s, the Italians claimed North Beach, the Chinese had Chinatown, the Irish had the Mission District, and Germans and Scandinavians had Eureka and Noe Valleys, then the city’s Jewish population by 1900 could be said to cluster along Geary, west of Van Ness, in what became known as the Western Addition but might also have been called “Bowery West” because it had a lot in common with New York’s Lower East Side.

Here, the largest community of Jews west of the Mississippi erected temples (Keneseth Israel, Anshey Sfard, and Beth Israel—all demolished), a Central Hebrew School (today a Korean cultural center), and a hospital (Mount Zion, now a campus of UCSF Medical Center), and they also maintained a home for newly arrived central European Jewish girls (the Emanu-El Sisterhood for Personal Service, today a beautifully restored B&B on Steiner and Golden Gate Avenue). Though the area was never a ghetto strictly speaking (with many Latinos, Hungarians, and Japanese here as well), it had a distinctly Jewish flavor, with kosher bakeries and delis and meat markets.

The neighborhood was spared the worst of the 1906 quake and fire, and it became the focal point of commerce and government as the city rebuilt. Ultimately, many Jews moved west, to the area adjacent to the Presidio, near where Temple Emanu-El stands today. They were replaced in this neighborhood by Japanese, then (during and after World War II, when the Japanese were forcibly displaced by government policies) by African Americans pouring into California during the Great Migration of Southern blacks, attracted to defense-industry jobs in the booming port of San Francisco. At this point, another flowering of the Western Addition occurred, especially in the sub-district known as the Fillmore—the street itself, as well as the surrounding blocks—this time as “Harlem of the West.” Jazz clubs proliferated during the war years and afterward, when a rising black middle class sought its own brand of entertainment and the city overall followed the great outpouring of swing.

But that heyday was short-lived. By the late 1950s, the Fillmore District and the whole of the Western Addition became ridden with vice and petty crime, particularly the side streets, where the housing stock had suffered years of neglect. The inevitable decline of this marginalized area (except for its clubs and music venues) heralded calls for a cleanup, and another movement took hold—urban “renewal,” which here meant razing and rebuilding. With breathtaking efficiency, the area was bulldozed, block by block; legendary venues such as Bop City—where Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mathis, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and Lionel Hampton had all played—disappeared. Huge empty lots filled slowly with uninspired, low-rise buildings (some of these lots remain empty, and many of the structures are cheaply constructed public housing). Though new and “modern” (in the strictly utilitarian sense), the unsophisticated dwellings attracted few of the displaced denizens of the once-thriving neighborhood, who elected not to return. Thus, blocks of anonymous housing with little connection to the old neighborhood dominate the area today, a lingering reminder of the failure of an overreaching urban-planning policy.

Still, there are bright spots. An enlightened new movement toward a more felicitous urban landscape is emerging, easing (if not erasing) the ugly remnants of 1960s urban renewal and its cookie-cutter approach to housing and public spaces. The Western Addition today boasts a number of interesting (if not award-winning) high-rises, centers that keep alive the memory of the area’s jazz age and its African American and Jewish histories, the “San Francisco sound” both in jazz and rock-‘n’-roll (Yoshi’s and the Fillmore—home of the iconic early Grateful Dead concerts—respectively) as well as the area’s Japanese heritage (evidenced in the adjacent Japantown, another sub-district across Geary Street from the Fillmore). The parks—particularly Jefferson Square Playground and James P. Lang Field, on Turk between Laguna and Gough, along with Kimbell Playground, on Steiner between Ellis and Geary—offer blocks of grassy open space, tennis courts, and baseball diamonds to all from this packed urban area who seek respite in the open outdoors.

The 25,000 residents here are predominantly African American (40 percent), with whites (30 percent) and Asians (25 percent) each making up the rest. The population is on the young side (median age is 33), and the median annual household income is about $35,000. Most (75 percent) rent rather than own their homes.

The commercial strip (such as it is) exists largely along Fillmore, in “resurrected” storefronts in modern buildings, their old-sounding names summoning the feel of the area in its jazz-age glory (Sheba Lounge, St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church) while sharing the street with Asian restaurants and small coffeehouses. A Safeway at O’Farrell and Webster serves the neighborhood as all-purpose grocery store, with small specialty stores along Divisadero filling in the gaps.

As for educating the area’s youth, public schools in particular offer local options for kindergarten through grade 12 education, including Rosa Parks Elementary (K-5) on O’Farrell (which received a 3 out of 10 GreatSchools rating), the Creative Arts Charter School (an alternative K-8) on Turk Street (which received a 5 out of 10 GreatSchools rating), and Gateway High School (an alternative high school on Scott Street that scored an 8 out of 10 rating from GreatSchools). Jewish Community High School of the Bay, on Ellis Street, caters to a Jewish-faith student body and emphasizes arts, athletics, and community outreach.

Muni buses have the area covered in terms of public transportation, including the Nos. 5, 31, and 38, which travel east/west along McCallister, Eddy, and Geary, respectively. The Nos. 22 and 24 go across the neighborhood on a north/south axis, traveling up and down Fillmore and Divisadero, respectively. Though parking is relatively easy (many of the public housing units have garages), the city nonetheless has issued “R” and “P” parking permits for the streets where two-hour time limits are in effect for non-residents.

Crime here is an issue for newcomers, even as it’s a fact of life for old-timers. Disturbing the peace—noise nuisances, mostly—vandalism, and robberies are most common during a three-month period, followed by burglaries and assaults. Car break-ins and vehicle thefts are common, particularly in neighborhoods with a prevalence of public housing. Assaults are also frequent. There have been more than a dozen homicides in the last three years.

The real-estate market here has been in flux, especially since prices dropped during the recent recession. For the most part, prices have yet to recover, showing a 20 percent drop in the last year. In a bright spot, condos are what drives the market, with most two-bedroom/one-bath units in the $330,000 range. Some larger units are available in modern buildings for upward of $600,000. As for rentals, one-bedrooms can be found for $1,300, with two bedrooms or more ranging from $1,995 to $3,500, depending on location, traffic (the more, the better—at least in terms of security), and building amenities.

Though its promise has been tarnished by the legacy of a scorched-earth urban renewal policy, the Western Addition holds promise by virtue of its numerous revitalized streets and the potential contained in its easily rebuilt, reconfigured, or repurposed modern blocks. With a renewed nightlife center and the ancillary street traffic it generates, the neighborhood has the potential to be born again.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • 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 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"South of Fillmore, you can shop, drink, dance more"

southwest ofthe Presidio, most of the action In this neighborhood, in our numerous visits, is on the iconic Fillmore St, several blocks away. One of our Fillmore favorites is Harrys Bar, where my friend Brendan used to work. Great Irish coffees, generous pours on their cocktails. This neighborhood has a lot of the upscale boutiques (Betsey Johnson, Jurlique, L'Occitane), but when we day trip to the city, the two places my "sister-in-spending",Carla, and I love are TheNest, a totally unique place to pick up a gift or home accent. And who doesn't love shoes? Please visit Gimme Shoes. On Fillmore, look for the sleek silver awning and yummy purses hanging from the wall like roasted ducks, over rows and rows of shoes, illuminated perfectly with track lighting. This store has been round since I was in elementary school and I am 37. In high school, when we tripped up to the city from Fresno for nerdy debate competitons, Gimme Shoes was like our teengirl Mecca. I actually bought a pair of Phillip Lim shoes here to wear on my honeymoon, but now that I am a married mom of two and a teacher, I am returned to the status of shoe pilgrim. This place approaches its passion for footwear with artistry. They select their inventory with care and creativity, which makes them special and unique. If you buy a pair of shoes and save enough pocket change to grab a snack, go to Dosas and get the paneer dosa and a curry bloody mary. But if you are in the mood for bready and chewy instead of light and crispy, get an uttapam instead. Yummy chutneys and spiced yogurt come with any on their menu. Fillmore Street has great nightlife, clubs, concerts, and blues joint, like The Fly on Divisadero. Popular, it's a busy part of the neighborhood and at times a little to see-and-be-seen for my taste.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Neighborhood with a great history of music"

The Western Addition is a place where I’ve been for a good portion of my life, due to school. The area here isn’t too bad unless you go out of your way to make something bad happen to you. Although it does have a bad reputation of violence, possibly gang related, it is probably due to what people call the “ghettoness” of the Filmore district. Although there is a larger number of African-Americans living in this neighborhood than most, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad. For the past four years of going to school in this neighborhood, nothing bad has ever happened to me, although I did get the sense that it was bad and dangerous at some points, I came out safe. The area is also heavily policed by law enforcement, so there isn’t really a need to worry. In the Western Addition there are a lot of apartments and old looking homes. The traffic is pretty bad sometimes too because Divisadero Street and Geary Street. The Western Addition is also really well known for its history of jazz music, so for those who love music or even jazz music, you should definitely check out the jazz clubs such as the Boom Boom Room. If you’re looking for places to shop, the Western Addition is definitely not the place to go, you should head towards Japantown for the closest shopping area.
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Rough edges but affordable rents"

Western Addition tends to get a bad rap for being a terrible neighborhood. Although there are some rough streets lined with housing projects, the rest of the area is pretty subdued. Due to its bad reputation, the Western Addition is a heavily policed area and the streets are, for the most part, peaceful and well lit. Compared to other San Francisco neighborhoods, parking is a dream here although I’ve heard reports of occasional break-ins.

The Western Addition is mostly residential and has very few restaurants. However, the neighborhood is situated in a great location with easy access to Downtown, Civic Center, Hayes Valley, NoPa, LoHa, The Fillmore and Lower Pacific Heights. Western Addition apartments are pretty affordable, but many are old and run down Victorians in sore need of paint jobs. Public transportation is very good but the outbound routes become very overcrowded during the evening rush hour. Many of the streets in the area have built-in bike lanes that make cycling a safe and easy alternative.

There are a few bustling community centers in Western Addition, and several non-profits are working to improve the neighborhood. Many Western Addition residents are deeply invested in the community and fighting hard to make it a better place.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
3/5
2yrs+

"Quiet, pretty neighborhood"

I loved visiting West Addition street. The Victorian-style buildings were so beautiful and the scenery was great. I was headed somewhere else, but stopped and got out of my car just to take a few pictures. There wasn't much more to look at other then the houses but if you are passing by I suggest taking a look.
Recommended for
  • Families with kids

Travelling to Western Addition?

Find Hotels

Best Streets in Western Addition

1

Pierce St

4/5
"Main Street Traffic"
37.7807068368335 -122.435555159143
"Right to Japantown"
37.7791648104561 -122.427567902008
3

Steiner St

3/5
"Steiner Street has quiet charms"
37.7812384277429 -122.433976423652
4

Turk Blvd

2.5/5
"Great parks, bad parking."
37.7806976583132 -122.430559952701
5

Eddy St

1.5/5
"Nice Place, for the area."
37.7815838967457 -122.431104126671

Unranked Streets in Western Addition

"Not the best area"
37.784397225211 -122.428992972821

Cleary Ct

2.5/5
"Basically In Japantown"
37.7840713790162 -122.426608809846
"Basically a parking lot"
37.7837518796068 -122.428102896801
"A family street"
37.7797004553692 -122.430886225295

Hollis St

2/5
"Hollis street: Just buildings"
37.7831335000398 -122.430144499418

Best Neighborhoods to Live In

Best Cities to Live In

Tell everyone what you love about your neighborhood!

Leave a Review

Have a question?

How are schools? Is the area safe? What about public transit options?" Why not ask our community of locals!

Ask Now

Selling or Renting Your Home?

Maximize the selling price of your home by sharing what you love about your suburb to increase its appeal...

Leave a Review

Corporate Relocation Manager?

Enable your employees to share local knowledge in a private, trusted environment with those relocating... while building community.

Learn More