South of Market (SoMa)
South of Market (or SoMa), which lies south of Market Street, has witnessed a complete transformation from a working class enclave to an industrial one with warehouses and small factories, to ultimately emerge as the heart of the city’s contemporary art scene. It is now home to myriad museums and galleries, largely centered around 3rd and 4th streets, anchored by the Moscone Convention Center.
SoMa’s Art Scene
SoMa’s chief attraction is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, located on 3rd Street, adjacent to the Yerba Buena Gardens. The museum houses a fabulous permanent collection of more than 18,000 paintings, sculpture and photographs. At the Yerba Buena Gardens, too, there is a Center for the Arts, where rotating exhibitions feature works of internationally renowned as well as emerging artists. Among others, the Ansel Adams Center on 4th Street is devoted to the works of the late American photographer; while the Cartoon Art Museum on nearby Mission Street showcases a rich collection of comic strips, cartoons and animation art.
The Mission is San Francisco’s Latino neighborhood, lying to the south of SoMa and east of The Castro, with much of the activity here centered on Dolores, Mission and Valencia streets, the last with ethnic bistros and bars and a colorful jumble of shops and galleries. The district grew up largely around Mission Dolores which was originally established here in 1776 and remains the area’s focal center. There is a small museum at the mission, with artifacts depicting the colonial period.
The Castro, directly east of Mission and south of Market Street, is where San Francisco’s gay community makes its home. It’s a vibrant neighborhood brimming with Victorian homes, restaurants, bars, and funky shops and boutiques, especially colorful along the two blocks of Castro Street that lie just south of the Harvey Milk Plaza. Of particular interest here is the landmark Castro Theatre, an ornate Spanish Renaissance Revival structure dating from 1922.
South from The Castro on Castro Street and we are in Noe Valley, an affluent neighborhood of restored Victorians and upscale shops, mostly concentrated on 24th Street, between Dolores and Diamond streets.
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