Just as the hills of San Francisco twist and turn in different directions, so too do its neighborhoods. From one block to the next, you just might stumble upon a city within a city, one with its own culture, history and distinctive appeal. Easily one of San Francisco’s most well known neighborhoods is North Beach, the city’s own Little Italy.
While Italian flags wave in more frequency here than perhaps American flags, suggesting the area’s past as a stronghold for Italians in the late 1800s, North Beach was also a popular spot for the Beat Movement and even baseball great Joe DiMaggio. While you can have plenty of helpings of pasta and cannoli in North Beach, there is a lot more to this neighborhood than meets the pizza pie. Here are a few sights in the neighborhood that provide insight into this San Francisco staple.
The North Beach Museum: You can begin your journey through North Beach at the North Beach Museum set up in the Eureka Bank building in a US Bank branch. On the second floor, you can uncover the story of the neighborhood’s culture and history. The museum also details North Beach’s most notable residents including Joe DiMaggio and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The museum is free to enter.
The Beat Museum: Fans of Jack Kerouac can follow the path to this North Beach museum. The Beat Museum is dedicated to the spirit of the Beat Generation. Throughout the museum, you can experience the writers, artists and thinkers of 1950s San Francisco. The museum contains an extensive collection of Beat memorabilia, specifically items pertaining to Jack Kerouac. Admission costs $8.
Filbert Steps: If you want to go for a lush walk in North Beach, you don’t have to look far. On the southeastern side of Coit Tower at Telegraph Hill Boulevard, you will find the Filbert Steps. The steps impress not just for their length by also for their views. Gardens sprinkle on both sides of the stairs, creating a tunnel of greenery in North Beach. Walkers should keep their eyes peeled for parrots. Oddly enough, the area is home to a flock of green parrots.
Coit Tower: Anchoring the North Beach neighborhood, Coit Tower is the area’s best view. Rising from Telegraph Hill, an elevator ride up the tower produces views over the city and the bay. Lillie Hitchock Coit donated the funds for Coit Tower in hopes of making the city’s skyline a little more beautiful. The end result is what you see today. Coit Tower was officially completed in 1933. Murals were added to the inside to depict the Depression in California. Today, Coit Tower remains one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.
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