Underneath the Map

Explore the city on our street level map of San Francisco.

On our SF street map, you might be able to spot some of the most famous landmarks – such as the famous crooked Lombard Street: “Lombard Street is known for the one-way block on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, where eight sharp turns are said to make it the most crooked street in the world. The design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry and built in 1922, was intended to reduce the hill's natural 27% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles.” Although most people seem to agree that the most crooked street is actually Vermont Street between 20th and 22nd streets in Portrero Hill. Have a read here for a good summary of how to choose the best crooked street to visit!


Due to the contours on our map you might also be able to see how steep many of the streets really are. Once again opinions differ between Filbert Street – traditionally thought of as the steepest at 31% – and others which are shorter but sharper. Luckily for us, in 2009, local resident Stephen Von Worly made it his mission to find out, so you can read all about it on his blog.


Here are 5 fascinating things you won’t find on our map:

1. How Much of SF is Built On Landfill:

Due to the city being on a seven mile square peninsula, there’s no growth except up, or into the sea:

“These physical boundaries are often implicated in conversation about the city’s current housing crisis, especially by proponents of vertical expansion. But for a lot of San Francisco’s history, when San Franciscans wanted more real estate they favored horizontal expansion: they simply made more land…some of the neighborhoods of San Francisco were packed together out of sand and trash by generations of human hands”.


2. What Lies Beneath:

When the mid Nineteenth Century California Gold Rush struck, Thousands of ships came to San Francisco:

“Many of the vessels were eventually left to rot, others were eventually used for such purposes as storeships, saloons, hotels, jails, and some were sunk purposefully to secure water lot titles (property that was originally underwater). As wood was scarce at the time, due to the many fires that swept the city and the increasing need for building material, many of the vessels were also broken up for their timber as well as other parts such as the metal plating.” That, combined with treacherous waters means that under the city lies a buried flotilla of ghost ships.

3. The Name That Wasn’t:

Upon independence from Spain in 1821, the SF area became part of Mexico and, in 1835, carried the name Yerba Buena “a name taken from the wild mint growing on the sand dunes that surrounded it”. “Commodore John D. Sloat claimed California for the United States on July 7, 1846, during the Mexican–American War, and Captain John B. Montgomery arrived to claim Yerba Buena two days later. Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco on January 30 of the next year, and Mexico officially ceded the territory to the United States at the end of the war”.



4. The Man Who Walked ALL The Streets

In his own words: “walking every street in San Francisco seemed an endless task...Only a handful of people have done it. And now I can say I have. All 2,612 streets. I have seen this city from every hilltop. Visited every neighborhood. Walked every street - from First to 31st. From Second to 48th avenues. From A Street to Zoo Road. From the bay to the Pacific. From the Golden Gate to the San Mateo County line. It took more than 500 hours during a seven-year period…To cover the city's 1,260 miles of streets, I went the extra mile. A few hundred extra miles, actually. Cul-de-sacs and detours around hills add up. So do return trips to the car. I traveled a total of 1,500 to 2,000 miles. Averaging about 3 mph, [it took] about 500 to 700 trips to get the job done.”

5. The Changing Face of the City

Displacement and gentrification are by no means a problem particular to San Francisco, it’s happening all over the world as cities grow and original inhabitants are priced out of their houses but is particularly acute in SF: “the boom in Silicon Valley has brought in hordes of well-paid tech workers, creating wildly escalating housing costs and scarcity and pushing out many longtime residents. Silicon Valley’s well-paid workforce is disproportionately white, male and young. Schoolteachers, nurses, mechanics and other vital workers are being pushed out of an increasingly homogeneous central Bay Area, and homelessness is an escalating crisis.”

But, according, to the New York Times: “Community organizers are fighting tech with tech. The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, which tracks evictions citywide, created pages of what it calls “dirty landlords” who evict residents and rehabilitate units into condominiums.