Eureka Valley is a beautiful neighbourhood right next to Noe Valley that is bursting with San Francisco history. The area’s vibrant culture is a huge draw for tourists and those looking to settle down in an endearing, colorful area. Eureka Valley includes the renowned Castro neighborhood, the LGBTQ hotspot that was a crucible for gay activism and the struggle for equal rights.
Over the years, Eureka Valley has developed into one of the most eclectic areas in San Francisco, offering a deep heritage and legacy that many other areas lack.
The Beginning of Eureka
In 1776 the Spanish authorities set up the Mission San Francisco de Asis, which was the sixth religions settlement they established. It is the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco to this day! You can read more about this area here. At the time, ranches built by Mexican landowners began to pop up across the Eureka Valley area. A Mexican man named José de Jesús Noé was granted his 4,443 land during the Mexican War, and it encompassed what we know today as Eureka Valley, Noe Valley, Glen Park, Diamond Heights, West Portal and beyond.
Before these men arrived to shape the valley they had bought, the area was home to the indigenous people who were thought to have arrived to the San Francisco Bay Area around 500 AD. As with most areas across North America, the native people who lived along the California coast – the Muwekma Ohlone tribe – had their way of life and culture disrupted by the arrival of new settlers. These ‘Californios’ brought new religion and beliefs to Eureka Valley, and turned it into an area of cattle ranches and rural labor.
The discovery of gold changed the makeup of the area considerably. Suddenly, San Francisco was flooded with gold seekers out to make their fortune. This grab for land and money carried on, but Eureka Valley became a more established, noble place to live in the Victorian era. The area kept expanding, and Noé sold his former ranchland for $70,000. In the 1890s and early 1900s it was rapidly developed into a place that resembles the Eureka Valley of today.
The 1906 Earthquake
By the start of the 20th century the area was hugely popular with Scandinavian migrants, earning it the name ‘Little Scandinavia’. It was a great place to find rye bread or a cardamom bun, with homesick locals baking the treats they missed from Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Eureka Valley was largely untouched by the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent earthquakes that destroyed over 80% of San Francisco. This boosted real estate in the Eureka Valley area immensely, with earthquake refugees flooding the area to purchase lots and homes that were seen as a safe bet after the area’s destruction.
The Castro and The Gay Community
The Castro District is the most famous area of the Eureka Valley neighborhood – and the first gay neighbourhood in the United States. After being known as Little Scandinavia for a long time during the early 1900s, a more diverse set of inhabitants began to arrive – Italians and Irish in particular. It became an ethnically mixed neighborhood that was staunchly working class, but this all changed in the 1960s. When the US military discharged thousands of gay servicemen during World War II, many settled in the Bay Area.
Around the same time, families were moving out of Eureka Valley to the suburbs for a different place of life. This left behind a plethora of real estate for gay buyers looking to create a community feel in the area. The first gay bar opened in 1963, and the popularity of the area only increased as the ‘Summer of Love’ took hold of 1960s America. The Castro soon became upscale and fashionable, and in the 1970s, it welcomed a man that would become its most famous resident: Harvey Milk. Milk went on to become a hugely influential gay activist, and that helped further establish the area as a central gay community on the West Coast. The Castro’s position in LGBTQ history leads to a good deal of tourism to the area.
Eureka Valley Real Estate For Sale
Eureka Valley has continued to change and grow as the years have gone by. In the 1990s, the Dot-Com boom brought plenty of young professionals into the area, and transport options have only increased in the time since. This makes current real estate popular with families and working professionals who love the beauty and history contained within the streets.
If you’re looking for your little piece of home in a beautiful neighbourhood like Eureka Valley, give Danielle Lazier + Associates a call.