The North Beach Festival is this weekend! Just because, here are 3 fun facts about the neighborhood that you might not know (and one not-so-fun fact)
1) Once, North Beach was actually a beach
If you’ve ever wondered how it got the name, it’s actually quite simple. Up until the later 19th century, San Francisco only extended about as far north as Francisco Street. Over time, abandoned boat hulls and other landfill came together to form the coastline we are more familiar with today, which leaves North Beach slightly inland. To put things in perspective, from the intersection of Francisco and Taylor, historically the farthest-north extent of land, it is about 4 ½ blocks to Pier 39.
2) The area around North Beach was once the city’s red light district (and still kind of is, actually)
The area just south of North Beach now known as Jackson Square was once called the Barbary Coast. Here, sailors and other toughs who had just docked at the nearby wharfs found plentiful drink, gambling, and…other vices. A quick stroll down Broadway, and you can see that things have changed, though not much…
3) Joe DiMaggio is from North Beach!
That’s right, Joltin’ Joe himself grew up in North Beach. Before prowling center field at Yankee Stadium, DiMaggio played Shortstop for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, helping them to a title in 1935. DiMaggio married his first wife at North Beach’s Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, and took some wedding photos there with his more-famous second wife, Marilyn Monroe. His funeral was held there in 1999.