Bernal Heights

Bernal Heights, also sometimes referred to as “Nanny Goat Hill” neighborhood lies to the south of San Francisco’s Mission District. This neighborhood is bounded by Caesar Chavez Street to the north, San Jose Avenue to the west, US 101 to the east, and I-280 to the south.

Its most prominent feature is the open parkland and radio tower on the large rocky hill, Bernal Hill Summit. The grassland on the hilltop is home to a remarkable urban ecosystem and the radio tower, often referred to by the locals as “Sutrito Tower”, is a major connection point for the metropolitan San Francisco area. The hill’s north slope has been referred to as one of San Francisco’s “banana belts”, with warmer temperatures on average than the rest of the city due to a lesser amounts of marine fog making its way inland.

Bernal Heights neighborhood owes its name to Jose Cornelio de Bernal, to whom the land was granted in 1839 by the Mexican government. By the 1860s the rancho was owned by Frenchman financier François Louis Alfred Pioche, who subdivided the area into small lots to be first populated primarily by Irish immigrants who farmed the land and ran dairy ranches here.

Bernal Heights remained primarily undeveloped until the 1906 earthquake and fire. Built atop bedrock, the hill’s structures survived the tremor and the sparseness of the development saved much of the area from the inferno that followed. The commercial corridor of Eugenia Avenue filled in with shops as the pastureland on the hilltop was developed for workers’ homes during the post-1906 rebuilding of the city. During World War II, the area saw another population surge including many African American families thanks to its proximity to the San Francisco Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point. During the Vietnam War, the neighborhood was known as “Red Hill” for the anti-war activists in shared households and collectives who moved in among the working-class families. In the 1980s Bernal Heights had a reputation as a dangerous place to venture but Cortland Avenue started to be cleaned up in the early ‘90s, when the Good Life Grocery moved in, followed by restaurants like the Liberty Café, as well as other small businesses. By the 1990s, Bernal's pleasant microclimate, small houses (some with traditional Victorian or Edwardian architecture) and freeway access to the peninsula and Silicon Valley led to a third wave of migration. While this neighborhood has not gentrified to the extent of its neighbor Noe Valley, the property values are increasing as urban professionals replace working-class home owners and renters.

Bernal Heights is long known as a residential, family oriented neighborhood, popular with first time home buyers and sometimes referred to as “Maternal Heights”. While it may protrude the feel of a quaint urban village that seems forgotten in time, Bernal Heights does bear the influence of city sophistication, with trendy boutiques and innovative restaurants scattered among its storefronts. This neighborhood is also an enclave for artists and progressives and popular with the LGBT community. Bernal’s commercial strip runs along Cortland Avenue featuring restaurants, cafes, bakeries as well as multiple stores and salons. The southeast corner of Bernal Heights is home to the famous open-air Alemany Farmers’ Market, one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the US (est. in 1947), with a flea market occupying the market area on Sundays.

Bernal Heights is a haven for dog lovers as its Bernal Hill Park, one of the largest in San Francisco, is designated as an “off-leash” park. Bernal Hill park is also known for its unusually steep streets, which are alleged to be the steepest in the world. The nearby Precita Park and Holly Park provide grassy play areas for children and adults to the north and south of the hill, respectively. Also notable is nearby Precita Eyes, an esteemed mural art center.

Bernal Heights has an average Walk score of 90 and an average Transit score of 76.

The below link provides further details on this neighborhood and its attractions:

The content displayed above was partially derived from,_San_Francisco. 


About Kate

As a long-term resident of San Francisco, Kate is well familiar with the city’s past and present. With her professional background and deep knowledge of the local housing market, Kate is in the position to best assist with your real estate needs. Should you be looking for a recommendation on the upcoming cultural or social events and/or if you need a trusted local real estate advisor, ask Kate – San Francisco is her HOME.

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