While officially South of Market neighborhood (or “SoMa” as it is commonly known) is relatively small (see map above), many San Franciscans’, when referring to SoMa, imply a much larger district, sprawling from the Embarcadero to Eleventh Street, between Market and Townsend streets.
This is the part of the city in which the street grid runs parallel and perpendicular to Market Street. The story behind this goes back to 1847 when San Francisco’s mayor Bartlett tasked Jasper O’Farrell, an Irish engineer and surveyor, to prepare a plan for expanding city’s boundaries. Shallow water beyond the beach as well as impossibility at the time to develop deeper inland due to high hills prompted the city officials to add more lots by extending the grid and filling the cove (some areas of this neighborhood are a landfill). As part of his city planning, O'Farrell laid out Market Street, a 120-feet boulevard running at a diagonal to the original grid. When expanding the southeast corner of the main grid toward the waterfront, O’Farrell discovered that areas south of Market Street around 1st Street overlapped with some previously granted 100-vara lots (measurement term at that time). Lots on the other side of Market Street were 50-vara in size and hence Market Street also served as a division for these differently-sized lots. This is a reason why Market Street is difficult to cross as few streets ending at Market directly connect with streets on the other side.
A notable historic area within this neighborhood is Rincon Hill, bounded by Folsom, Fremont, Bryant, and Third Streets. The name was derived from Rincon Point, a knob of land at Harrison and Spear streets that formed the southern corner of the original shoreline of Yerba Buena Cove (Yerba Buena was San Francisco’s original name and “rincon” stands for “corner” in Spanish). Physically the hill has been transformed, most dramatically in 1869 when the notorious “Second Street Cut” was gouged through and resulted in a sharp decline in value of its then elite residences and then again in the 1930s when it was leveled some more to provide for the Bay Bridge’s anchorage. Rincon Hill has been the city’s first elite residential area, an industrial / warehouse district, and later has become, along with many of other SoMa’s neighborhoods, the area of choice for multimedia and Internet companies as the former warehouses have been converted to offices and live / work lofts.
SoMa (in a large sense) comprises of the smaller neighborhoods such as South Park, Yerba Buena and South Beach, and overlaps with several others, including Mission Bay and Mission District. Overall, this neighborhood is a patchwork of residential hotels, luxury high-rises and lofts, trendy restaurants, swanky nightspots, art spaces, warehouses, and furniture showrooms.
Most of the action can be found in three general areas: by South Park and the AT&T Baseball Park (South Beach), around the SF MOMA museum and Yerba Buena gardens (Yerba Buena), and over by Folsom and Eleventh Street (South of Market).
The western end of the district is the most industrial, and is dominated by huge stores like Costco and Bed, Bath & Beyond. The stretch along Eleventh and Folsom is the heart of the gay leather and S&M scene and is also the site of the annual Folsom Street Fair. The area around Market and Third Street is more well heeled, influenced by the nearby Financial District and conventions at the Moscone Center. It also has a bohemian feel with several of the city's arts organizations being located here, including the SF MOMA, the Center for the Arts at Yerba Gardens and the California Historical Society.
The SoMa neighborhood (within its official boundaries) has an average Walk score of 96 and average Transit score of 100, Yerba Buena - an average Walk score of 95 and an average Transit score of 100, South Beach – an average Walk score of 87 and an average Transit score of 100.
The below link provides further details on this neighborhood and its attractions: http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/sf/soma/ ).
The content displayed above was partially derived from a book by Rand Richards “Historic Walks in San Francisco. 18 Trails Through the City’s Past” as well as