Inman Connect San Francisco is less than a week away, and it’s the last time the Inman crew will be shaking up the city by the bay for a while. If you haven’t been beyond the hotel during your time at ICSF, this year is the time to explore San Francisco’s bustling and colorfully named neighborhoods.
Curbed recently published a guide detailing how 67 San Francisco neighborhoods got their names, and here are my favorite stories, pulled straight from the article:
Bernal Heights: Wealthy rancher José Cornelio Bernal once owned a quarter of present-day San Francisco, conferred on him via a land grant from Mexico in 1839. According to a San Francisco Chronicle obituary, some portion of the land stayed in the family until 1926, ending with the death of Bernal’s grandson of the same name.
Cow Hollow: Yes, once upon a time most of present-day Cow Hollow was dairy farms —and, naturally, there were cows.
Crocker-Amazon: The Crocker part possibly comes from local railroad tycoon Charles Crocker, who once owned most of this land. Amazon Street may have gotten its name from the Amazon women of Greek myth, whom 16th-century Spanish novelist Montalvo recalled in his novel about a far-off island nation ruled by warrior women and dubbed “California,” which is where the name first came from.
Nob Hill: People still argue about this one, but the most popular explanation is that “Nob” is a snarky elision of “nabob,” in reference to the wealthy tycoons who built their mansions here.
Oceanview: A strange story, as this neighborhood was once called Lakeview, a reference to nearby Lake Geneva. But Lake Geneva no longer exists, so they changed the name to Oceanview, even though only a small part of the neighborhood affords a view of the ocean.
Russian Hill: Possibly the most oddball legacy of the lot, Gold Rush settlers discovered a cemetery atop this hill with Russian names inscribed, apparently the remains of unlucky sailors from the westward seas.
The Tenderloin: Named for the neighborhood in New York City, there’s a longstanding dispute over precisely what it means. Popular myth has it that beat cops made extra money for steak dinners working here, though whether they were eating off of hazard pay or bribes isn’t clear. The Tenderloin Museum, on the other hand, suggests that the name refers to the city’s “underbelly.”
Yerba Buena: Yerba Buena is the last holdout of the city of San Francisco’s original name. It translates to “good herb,” which, of course, provokes dank snickering today, but the reference is actually to the wild mint that used to grow on the hillsides.