Although this neighborhood, like most of San Francisco, has gentrified considerably since its hippie heyday, it is still a very eclectic part of the City. Whether for historic reasons or a community that keeps regenerating itself, the neighborhood still attracts people with more non-conformist attitudes, making the area a haven for a lot of eccentrics. And that is one of the many great things about this neighborhood.
There are both single-family homes and apartments in the Haight, but apartment buildings are more common. Therefore, the neighborhood, like most of the City, has a high concentration of residents, especially along the Haight Street corridor. That said, the Haight’s northern boundary is the Panhandle, which is a large rectangular green space. Also, the western edge of the neighborhood borders one of the entrances to Golden Gate Park. Therefore, there is plenty of access to open spaces. Read more under “Parks and Recreation.”
In general, the Haight is a very safe part of the City. As per current local police data and empirical information, there are typically not that many crimes in this neighborhood. Under normal circumstances, the Haight Street corridor is very busy with people shopping, dining, and/or enjoying the evening at the various cafes, patios, bars, and pubs around the neighborhood. For additional information regarding this topic, check out community reported crime incidents on www.spotcrime.com.
Concerning public transit, the Haight is mostly dependent on bus service. There are no streetcar lines or BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit ) stations nearby. However, the bus lines connect you to either transit points, plus the downtown area. The primary bus lines are 7 and 43. For current timetables, please go to www.sfmta.org
Biking around this area can be busy as you head towards downtown, but quite pleasant once you are in the Panhandle and head straight to Golden Gate Park. The primary bike lanes for the Haight are on Oak, Fell, and Page Streets. Check out the best routs on www.sfmta.org and/or on Google maps.
If you decide to use your car, Oak and Fell are streets are the primary arterials serving the neighborhood, but, of course, they are congested during rush hour. There are alternate side streets you can use, but they are smaller and can fill up during peak hours. In general, you should allow yourself extra time to travel downtown or to access Highway 101 during the busier times of the day.
Shopping and Dining
The main commercial corridor is on Haight Street. It runs from the entrance to Golden Gate Park on Stanyan Street, on the western end, to Central Street at the corridor’s eastern end. Personally, it is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the City. There are used clothing stores, such as Buffalo Exchange, which is world-famous, plus Amoeba Records, which is also well known and where you can pick up great deals on used CDs or even classic vinyl. Additionally, some other eclectic shops can buy crystals, incense, water pipes, skateboards, etc. And, if you need to take a break, the many cafes and restaurants offer great eating fare for all kinds of preferences, including vegan, gluten-free, etc.
At the western end of Haight Street, there is a Whole Foods Market for regular grocery shopping. Years ago, it used to be a Safeway, but as the neighborhood gentrified and tastes shifted, Whole Foods moved in.
Parks and Recreation
The Panhandle – Bike Lanes
Although Golden Gate (GG) Park is adjacent to the Haight, we will not cover it in this article since it is a topic in and of itself. However, the Panhandle, which is a type of extension to GG Park, is a common green space for Haight residents and the boundary between this neighborhood and the one to the north, which is known as NOPA and stands for North-of-the-Panhandle. This green space is basically a very wide median and a popular place to bike, walk, layout, and take the kids to play. Although at the time this article was written, the playground was closed. Still, it is a very pleasant and newly renovated playground, which will open when safe.
There are two public elementary schools, which are located in or near the Haight. One is the Chinese Immersion School at DeAvila. The second one is the McKinley Elementary School. You can learn more about these schools at www.sfusd.edu. There are also a couple of private schools, such as the French American International School, a K-12 school, and The Urban School of San Francisco, a high school. You can learn more about these two schools on their web pages, as well as at www.niche.com.
Haight Ashbury Neighborhood