Sunset District

District 2, more commonly known as the Sunset District, is the largest and one of the foggiest districts in San Francisco. Situated alongside Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach, it is a multi-ethnic, mostly residential neighborhood with an excellent restaurant scene, next to many of San Francisco’s natural attractions. The Sunset retains a quirky, small town feel while still being easily accessible to the more bustling parts of San Francisco.

The western part of the Sunset borders the cold northern Californian Pacific Ocean coastline resulting in this area getting much of the fog that San Francisco is famous for. Sand carried by the Pacific Ocean winds can be found on roadways and driveways within the first five to ten block east of Ocean Beach. The strip near the Pacific Ocean has a notable population of surfers who take advantage of the sometimes excellent surf conditions of Ocean Beach.

Given that most morning and evenings in this district are foggy and on some days the sun is barely visible at all, the jury is still out as to why this area was called the “Sunset”. It is said that around 1887, developer Aurelius Buckingham built a cluster of homes around what is now Lincoln Way and 5th Avenue and touted this suburb with its seemingly misleading name. It is doubtful that any of the buyers (mostly Irish immigrants used to fog and chill) were fooled by the name, instead they were likely attracted by the area’s very reasonable prices by the standards of the time.

Before construction of the Twin Peaks Tunnel in 1917, the Sunset was largely a vast, sparsely populated area of sand dunes and coastal scrub land known as the “Outside Lands”. The initial development of this area started in the 1870s and 1880s with construction of the Golden Gate Park. In 1897, the University of California laid the cornerstone for their new medical campus on the slopes of Mount Sutro which brought more residents into the neighborhood. However, it was not until the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fire when the development reached full scale. The completion of the streetcar tunnels in the 1930s further accelerated the construction pace. The post – World War II baby boom of 1950s contributed to the last sand dunes leveled down and replaced with more single- and multifamily homes. Many of these developments consist of pastel-colored rows of look-alike houses, differentiated by variations in their stucco facades and mirrored floorplans with most built upon 25-foot wide lots.

Initially a mostly Irish neighborhood (with some of the Irish contingent still present in the area), approximately half of Sunset’s residents today are Asian American, mostly of Chinese birth and descent, a result of a demographic shift that began in the late 1960s and accelerated further from 1980s as Asian immigration to San Francisco increased dramatically. Informal Chinatowns have emerged on Irving Street (between 19th and 24th avenues) as well as on the commercial section of Taraval and Noriega streets west of the 19th Avenue.

The Sunset District houses several large parks and recreation areas. The San Francisco Zoo is located in the southwestern corner of the neighborhood by Lake Merced, the largest lake within San Francisco. Also within Lake Merced area are several golf courses, including the Olympic Club, San Francisco Golf Club, and the TPC Harding Park. Across from Lake Merced is Fort Funston, now part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, which has some of the last remnants of the sand dune ecosystem that once covered the entire Sunset District. Stern Grove, a heavily wooded park and amphitheater located on Sloat Boulevard between 19th and 34th avenues, is known for its annual summer festival. Three more parks lie on the far-east border of the district: the northernmost Grand View Park (also known as Turtle Hill), Golden Gate Heights Park, and Hawk Hill Park.

The Sunset District and the neighboring Richmond District (on the north side of Golden Gate Park), are often collectively referred to as “The Avenues” as the majority of both areas are spanned by numbered north-south avenues. When these neighborhoods were initially laid out, the avenues were numbered 1st to 49th and the east-west streets were lettered A to X (with many streets bearing the names of the Spanish explorers).

The Sunset District encompasses several neighborhoods - Inner, Central and Outer Sunset, Inner Parkside, Parkside, Outer Parkside and Golden Gate Heights.

The Inner Sunset is a far-east section of the Sunset, located just west of Mount Sutro which makes it the least foggy part of the neighborhood. It is bordered by Lincoln Way to the north, Arguello Boulevard to the east, Quintara Street to the south, and the 19th Avenue to the west.

The Central Sunset is mostly residential with a commercial strip along portions of Irving Street. It is bounded by Lincoln Way to the north, 19th Avenue to the east, Quintara Street to the south, and Sunset Boulevard to the west. Features of this area include the massive Sunset Reservoir (largest in San Francisco) with a small park surrounding its outer rim, Golden Gate Park, the Sunset Recreation Center and Abraham Lincoln High School.

The Outer Sunset is the foggiest area of San Francisco due to its close proximity to Ocean Beach. It is bordered by Lincoln Way to the north, Sunset Boulevard (between 36th and 37th avenues) to the east, Sloat Boulevard to the south, and Ocean Beach to the west, with the primary commercial avenues being Irving, Noriega and Taraval. This area’s main attractions include the San Francisco Zoo, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, and Lake Merced.

The Parkside neighborhood is located alongside Pine Lake Park and Stern Grove. This neighborhood is bordered by Quintara Street to the north, 15th Avenue to the east, Wawona Street to the south, and Sunset Boulevard to the west, with Taraval Street being the main commercial artery.

Golden Gate Heights is a hilly neighborhood south of the Inner Sunset and northwest of the Forest Hill. Streets too steep to be anything but stairways, huge retaining walls and panoramic views of the ocean characterize this neighborhood that winds around the 725-foot-hight bluff. It is bordered by Kirkman Street to the north, Rivera Street to the south, 8th Avenue to the east and 17th Avenue to the west. Grand View Park is a park on a hill on the northern side of this neighborhood, Golden Gate Heights Park and Hawk Hill Park are on hills on the southern side of the area

The Sunset District has an average Walk score of 79 and an average Transit score of 60.

The below links provide further details on this neighborhood and its attractions:


The content displayed above was partially derived from,_San_Francisco as well as book by Gerald Adams “A San Francisco Neighborhood Guide”. 



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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