The Castro’s lively culture and vivid streetscapes have been a cultural landmark of San Francisco pride for decades. All are invited to experience the Castro’s fearless appetite for life. Originally sparsely populated ranchos owned by Mexican land barons, it became a village of dairy farms and Victorian houses in the 1880s when Irish, German, and Scandinavian families homesteaded there. The opening of the Castro Street segment of the Market Street Cable Railway in 1887 made it a desirable and accessible neighborhood. Eureka Valley was a working-class neighborhood with economic solidarity and a strong sense of community. Local businesses provided self-sufficiency, and everyone worked in the trades, public service sectors, or on the waterfront. The neighborhood was characterized by stately Victorian homes that accommodated multiple generations of families, and bars were everywhere. In the 1950s, white-collar LBGTQ couples with money were attracted to Eureka Valley's Victorian houses. In the late 1960s and 1970s, their influx gave rise to a counter-cultural movement and a new social identity for the neighborhood, which became known as "The Castro." The community had political, cultural, and economic power that influenced San Francisco politics.
Vibrant, inclusive, historic, quirky, progressive, friendly
At A Glance
Home to the LBGTQ movement in San Francisco, the neighborhood continues to be a haven for many to express their individuality.
WHAT TO EXPECT
A colorful, vibrant neighborhood that is rightly proud of its status and place in history.
The Castro is a classic “village within a city” but maintains a character all its own.
Unique, spontaneous, and inclusive locals.
Known for its Victorian buildings and historically significant architecture.
YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE WITH
Living where something’s always happening, while soaking up history at every turn.
Located In The Castro
Noe Valley, Mission, Twin Peaks, Haight Ashbury, Duboce Triangle, Eureka Valley, Dolores Heights
East to West Boundaries
Market St. to the west and Church St. to the east
North to South Boundaries
Market St. to the north and 22nd St. to the south
- Financial District via auto: 25 minutes
- Financial District via transit: 15 minutes
- South San Francisco via auto: 30 minutes
- Silicon Valley via auto: 60 minutes
AROUND THE BLOCK
The Castro began to take its modern form in the 1970s, when an influx of LBGTQ community came to the neighborhood. Today’s Castro is a slightly tempered version of the outdoor party it was then, still a melange of restaurants, bars, and nightlife but also home to an increasing number of families drawn by its spacious homes and convenient location.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Castro is a singular place, a neighborhood where expectations differ from those of other places. You can expect a walk down the street to become a lesson in civics, as activists advocate for causes you may never have known existed. Expect no shortage of nightlife, new restaurants, and high-fashion boutiques lining Market Street.
The Castro is similar to other San Francisco urban core neighborhoods in that its residents live a life that would not be possible in a small town or suburbia. Almost everything they need — restaurants, shops, grocery stores, pharmacies, rec centers, parks, and schools — is located within easy walking distance. This is not just a neighborhood; it’s a destination.
In many ways, locals are their own urban tribe, inventing new definitions for “family” even as they make their way through each chaotic, urban day. The Castro is a place of connection, of unplanned meetings among friends, and casual lunches that turn into early dinners. It’s important that newcomers to The Castro understand that this neighborhood revels in its uniqueness.
Known for its Victorian architecture, which includes many well-preserved Victorian homes, such as Queen Anne and Italianate styles, as well as Edwardian homes. These historic homes are a significant part of the neighborhood's charm and cultural identity.
YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE WITH
From the vibe of excitement emerging from Castro Street, to the historic beauty of the restored Victorians that line the neighborhood, you’ll love the variety of restaurants and night spots. Mostly, you’ll love the overwhelming sense of life exploding forth from this vital, exuberant neighborhood.