Until recently, most of the Central Waterfront remained undeveloped or industrial with most of the residential development centering around Dogpatch.

Adjacent to the so-called Central Waterfront of the San Francisco Bay and to the east of Potrero Hill, Dogpatch is bounded by Mariposa Street to the north, I-280 to the west, Cesar Chavez Street to the south, and the waterfront to the east. Dogpatch is mostly flatland and has many docs (most of them built atop landfill). This neighborhood survived the 1906 earthquake and fire and hence has some of the oldest buildings in San Francisco, dating back to the 1860s. It is an officially designated historic neighborhood which includes residential and mostly light industrial components as well as new but growing art district. Many warehouses were converted to lofts and condos in recent years. Like its neighbor Potrero Hill, Dogpatch enjoys sunny weather. Just as Potrero Hill, Dogpatch was originally part of Potrero Nuevo and the history of these two neighborhoods is intertwined (both areas belonged to Francisco de Haro). Today, Dogpatch has its own neighborhood association but shares a merchant association, Democratic caucuses, and general neighborhood matters with Potrero Hill.

The name “Dogpatch” was first attributed to this neighborhood before World War II and the jury is still out as to what substantiated such a designation. One of the most popular theories of the name origin claims that there were packs of dogs populating the area, attracted by the discarded meat parts from a nearby Butchertown (a slaughterhouse district located in Bayview). For most of its history, Dogpatch was uninhabited land, used sporadically by Native Americans as hunting ground. In the late 1700s, Spanish missionaries grazed cattle on the hill and named the area which today comprises of Dogpatch and Potrero Hill “Potrero Nuevo” - or “new pasture”. After Mexico gained Independence from Spain in 1821, the Mexican government granted Potrero Nuevo to de Haro family.

In 1848, after the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, Mexico ceded all of California, and it was admitted into the Union in 1850. Dr. John Townsend became the second mayor of the town now called San Francisco (changed from Yerba Buena in 1847), succeeding Francisco de Haro. With the start of the Gold Rush era in 1848, San Francisco experienced unprecedented growth. Townsend envisioned developing Potrero Hill as a community for migrants and their newfound riches. Being a good friend of de Haro, Townsend approached him about dividing his land into individual lots and selling them. De Haro, with his land rights already challenged and fearing that the U.S. government would now strip him of Potrero Nuevo, agreed to Townsend's suggestion. Even before California became a state, local residents saw Potrero Nuevo as an intersection of Mexican California and the United States, due to its location. Townsend capitalized on this sentiment by naming the north-south streets after American states and the east-west streets after California counties (Alameda, Mariposa, Santa Clara, etc.). At this time, Potrero Hill was not part of San Francisco and was marketed as “South San Francisco.”

By the standard of the mid-nineteenth century, this area was not a convenient location to get to - it was still separated by Mission Bay, which was not yet filled in. Prospective purchasers partly deemed Potrero Hill too far away and were also wary of De Haro's uncertainty as legal owner of the land. As a result, only a few lots were sold. After the death of de Haro in 1849, squatters began to overtake Potrero Point. While the de Haro family tried to maintain control of the land, their legal rights were challenged, the case went all the way to the Supreme Court and in 1866 it ruled against them to the rejoice of the squatters many of whom gained title to the lots they were occupying.

Development eventually arrived to the area in the early 1850s albeit not in the form of rich gold-miners envisioned by Townsend. The earliest residents were mostly European immigrant factory workers. The opening of the Long Bridge (as part of Pacific Railway Act) in the 1860s, which connected San Francisco proper through Mission Bay to Potrero Hill, Dogpatch and Bayview, drastically changed the dynamics of Dogpatch and Potrero Hill. With the closing of the Long Bridge after Mission Bay was filled in the early 1900s, these areas became even more desirable. Over time, Dogpatch became more industrialized and many residents migrated to neighboring Potrero Hill. Waterfront-oriented industry, including shipbuilding, dry docks and ship outfitting and repairs, warehouses, steel mills, and similar industries flourished until after World War II, when they began to decline.

By the early 1900s, a large concentration of non-English European immigrants had settled in Dogpatch. The two earliest residential neighborhoods were the Irish Hill and Dutchman’s Flat. The infamous Irish Hill (located east of Illinois Street and right next to the factories) was home to many Irish gangs and crime was rampant – it was leveled for use as landfill and its residents were displaced in 1918. Over half of Dogpatch’s population at this time was Irish, Scots, Swiss, Russians, Slovenians, Serbians and Italians.

By the 1930s, the land in Dogpatch had already been built out. The advance of automobile affordability meant that many factory workers were able to drive to work and live further away from the factories in Dogpatch, and thus there was no urgency to increase housing in the neighborhood which continued until the 1980s. As a result, many late 19th and early 20th buildings remained intact. Dogpatch boasts San Francisco’s oldest public school, Irving M. Scott School (built in 1895), the historic shipyards at Pier 70 as well as Dogpatch Studios. Several quaint Victorians, designed at no-charge by Jon Cotter Pelton, Jr., remain on Tennessee and Minnesota Streets (his designs were published in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin, so that the City’s working class could build affordable homes).

The United States’ decision to enter World War II created an industrial boom in Dogpatch, led by the shipyards that constructed navy ships. As a result, the neighborhood experienced a significant increase in population (but not housing). In the 1960s, Interstate 280 was constructed, under much controversy as some residents were forced to vacate their homes in exchange for often significantly below-market price paid by the government. I-280 sliced through Potrero Nuevo, and the area east of the freeway began to form a unique identity, with more people beginning to refer to the neighborhood as “Dogpatch.”

Until the 1990s dot-com boom, Dogpatch endured several decades of decline, thereafter, it began to shed its working-class roots as a result of the demographic changes due to spillover from the nearby Potrero Hill and the Mission District. The transformation of Mission Bay (to the north of Dogpatch) into a biotechnology and healthcare hub further contributed to its gentrification. Gentrification affected the existing housing stock as well brought new construction including loft-style condominiums, many of which were designated as “live-work” units for artists, graphic designers, and similar occupations. Dogpatch’s Caltrain station at 22nd Street makes it popular with commuters who work south of San Francisco (this station is one of only nine stations that receive “Baby Bullet” express service in addition to regular service).

Central Waterfront - Dogpatch neighborhood has an average Walk score of 75 and an average Transit score of 79.

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


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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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