This post appears as part of the SFhotlist Neighborhoods In SF Series. We’re showcasing the best and most interesting of San Francisco history, culture, food, shopping, and more — neighborhood by neighborhood. Let us know if there is a microhood you’d like to read about.
Why the Inner Mission is Cool
One reason the Inner Mission is cool is because it’s hot — compared to the rest of foggy San Francisco, that is. People also love the area because it’s at the apex of all that is happening in the tech economy and culturally, including a vibrant café culture, great nightlife, an eclectic mix of new developments and classic, older San Francisco architecture.
Among the most sought after San Francisco neighborhoods, the Inner Mission is a bit less expensive to buy into than, say, Noe Valley (stay with me — more on that later).
Where It Is
The Inner Mission, District 9c, is a Mission District microhood bounded on two sides by highway 101, Dolores Street (where it borders the Mission Dolores and Noe Valley neighborhoods), and Cesar Chavez Street, where it borders Bernal Heights.
Located near the center of the City, the Inner Mission is bikeable, walkable, and has great public transportation, including two BART stations, freeway access, and bus lines.
The Mission District, because it is San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood, is rich in history and culture.
Way back before we had busses, the Ohlone and Yelamu people lived in the Inner Mission for more than 2,000 years — up until Spanish missionaries arrived in the area in the late 18th century. The Mission San Francisco de Asis was founded on June 29, 1776 by a Spanish priest named Father Francisco Palóu, under the direction of Father Junipero Serra. Within about 75 years, the population of Christian Indians was down to eight people, and what was to become contemporary San Francisco fell on very hard times.
The Gold Rush reinvigorated the area, with enterprising businesses facilitating construction of plank style roads from what is now downtown San Francisco to the Inner Mission to create a resort area filled with something kind of like what we have today — young people making good on the latest boom.
What most of us now call Mission Dolores is both the oldest original intact Mission in California and the oldest building in San Francisco, having survived the 1906 earthquake and fires only because adjacent buildings were dynamited.
Following the 1906 earthquake, the Inner Mission was, up until the 1940s, an Irish neighborhood. At that time, Mexican workers moved from the Rincon Hill barrio to build the Bay Bridge’s western landing, touching off a wave of “white flight.”
In the 1970s and 80s, the area was known for a lively punk scene and eventually became known as a “bohemian” center. In the 90s, waves of Central American immigrants and political refugees moved into the Inner Mission, helping create a vibrant latino cultural nexus in heart of San Francisco.
Culture and Sights
According to our friends at Wikipedia:
Numerous Latino artistic and cultural institutions are based in the Mission. These organizations were founded during the social and cultural renaissance of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Latino community artists and activists of the time organized to create community-based arts organizations that were reflective of the Latino aesthetic and cultural traditions. The Mission Cultural Center for the Latino Arts , established by Latino artists and activists, is an art space that was founded in 1976 in a space that was formerly a furniture store. The local bilingual newspaper, El Tecolote, was founded in 1970. The Mission’s Galería de la Raza, founded by local artists active in el Movimiento (the Chicano civil rights movement), is a nationally recognized arts organization, also founded during this time of cultural and social renaissance in the Mission, in 1971. Late May, the city’s annual Carnaval festival and parade marches down Mission Street. Inspired by the festival in Rio de Janeiro, it is held in late May instead of the traditional late February to take advantage of better weather. The first Carnaval in San Francisco happened in 1978, with less than 100 people dancing in a parade that went around Precita Park. [Photo credit: Mark ]
Because it is such an old neighborhood in SF, the Inner Mission is home to both San Francisco’s oldest cinema in San Francisco, The Roxie, which features independent films and documentaries and oldest live theatre, the Victoria Theatre, built in 1908.
For the latest and edgiest the art scene offers, visit The Lab or, for cutting edge dance, go to Dance Mission Theater, a nonprofit performance venue and dance school. For a quirky San Francisco experience, visit the Troll Window on 18th Street near Valencia.
The Inner Mission is one of San Francisco’s many foodie havens, including countless taquerias (every San Franciscan has a favorite. I suggest you try Taqueria San José.)
Atlas Café is a classic for your everyday café needs, or try Coffee Bar, a more recent addition with stellar reviews. Head to Heirloom Café for their great food, amazing wine, and unique corkage rules. If you love cocktails, head to the understated but upscale Range for seasonal food and expert mixology. Had one too many? Return in the morning for the Happy Moose Juice pop-up.
If you love shopping, hit a local boutique. Try Love & Luxe for on-trend jewelry and interesting art, Chrome for bombproof gear for living and riding in the city, or Tigerlily for a scented something for your special friend.
If you like the nightlife, baby, the Inner Mission is the place for you. If you’re going casual and want to have some fun with bloody marys and photo booths, try 500 Club. For dancing, head to the Baobab (especially check out their salsa scene) and Shades of Blue.
Inner Mission Real Estate
In the Inner Mission, you are truly at the heart of San Francisco. The neighborhood is culturally rich, diverse, and has a mix of old and new housing all located within one of San Francisco’s sunniest neighborhoods. You’ll find housing at price points slightly below adjacent neighborhoods Noe Valley and Mission Dolores as well.
For more information about Inner Mission real estate, watch my video:
The Inner Mission has a lot to offer anyone who calls it home.