Potrero Hill is known for its amazing views of downtown and the Bay. The word “Potrero” is Spanish for meadow and paddock; basically, where you find “potros,” which is Spanish for colts. The name derives from the 1800s when this hill was grazing land for sheep, goats, and young horses. The neighborhood is also quite large compared to other neighborhoods. Its boundaries are Highway 101 to the west, 16th Street to the north, the Bay to the east, and Cesar Chávez Street to the south. However, this area included both Dogpatch and the Central Waterfront. Therefore, for the purpose of the article, the eastern boundary of Potrero is considered to be highway 280.
Potrero Hill has a balanced amount of single-family homes, as well as apartment buildings and even affordable housing complexes around Potrero Hill Park on the eastern slope. In general, the neighborhood is quite sought after by locals because of its easy, quick access to downtown; plus, depending on where you live in Potrero, there is also easy access to the 101 and the 280 highways. If you are thinking of living in this area, many rental agencies, property managers, and realtors can help you find the right place. However, you can also start doing some of your own research by visiting property websites, such as www.zillow.com or www.trulia.com, among others, to see home listings with prices and home descriptions.
Potrero Hill is relatively safe with a small amount of criminal activity, partly due to its being rather sequestered from the rest of the City. Therefore, the neighborhood is rather quiet and peaceful. That said, your best option is to research crime in the area where you are thinking of living, which you can accomplish by visiting www.spotcrime.com or go to @SFPD (San Francisco Police Department) for up-to-date criminal activity.
Potrero is close to downtown, which is convenient if you work or spend a considerable amount of time there. However, Potrero is quite hilly, which makes it challenging to walk or bike around. That said, it is not impossible to do so, plus it is a healthy activity. Busses are an option, but not always convenient if you live downhill at the nearest bus stop. Sometimes, the busses tend to run with long intervals between them, and the bus routes are not always close by.
As I have said many times before, I hate recommending driving. Still, if you decide to drive around this district and/or get to work, you will find a parking space relatively easily in Potrero, at least by San Francisco standards. In order to plan and/or schedule a trip by bus, car, on a bike, or on foot, go to www.sfmta.com for traffic, transit, and commuter information.
Shopping and Dining
The main commercial corridor in Potrero is on 18th Street, primarily between Arkansas and Mississippi Streets. Here is where you will find a considerable selection of restaurants and cafes, including the iconic local pizzeria Goat Hill Pizza, among others. Additionally, there are some other commercial and dining options along 16th Street, including a Starbucks on 16th and Kansas, as well as a Whole Foods Market a block away on 17th and Kansas. In addition, convenience stores are dotting the neighborhood.
The Good Life Grocery Store is located at 1524 20th Street. It is an employee-owned market that specializes in organic and locally grown produce. They also have a second store in Bernal heights.
Parks and Recreation
There are a few smaller green spaces around, but the largest park, which also contains a recreation center and tennis courts, is Potrero Hill Park at 801 Arkansas Street. Not only do you get to take in some breathtaking views of the Bay, but also there are a few short hiking paths around the park, plus an open field, which are popular locations to walk your dog.
Jackson Park is located at 17th and Carolina Streets. Though it is smaller than Potrero Hill Park, it is a flat and well-maintained park with a nice playground for your kid(s). I mention the word “flat” because not everyone appreciates San Francisco’s hilly topography all the time.
Schools and Libraries
The local schools are Douglas Webster Elementary School (www.danielwebster-sf.com), which is a Spanish immersion charter school; Starr King Elementary School (www.starrkingschool.org), which has a Chinese immersion and Autism-Focused programs; Enola D. Maxwell Middle school (www.cde.ca.gov), which has an impressive arts program; Live Oak School (www.liveoaksf.org), which is a private K-8 school; the Downtown High School (www.sfusd.edu); and the San Francisco International High School (www.sfihs-sfusd.com), which focuses on student diversity, especially immigrant students, and has a high academic standing with over 80% of their graduates going on to college. We recommend you visit www.niche.com for information regarding private institutions. And for information regarding public schools, visit www.sfusd.edu.
For adult students interested in alternative medicine, the world-renowned American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (www.actcm.edu) is located at 455 Arkansas Street. They offer college degrees in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as having a working clinic for their patients.
The Potrero Branch Library is located at 1616 20th Street near Connecticut Street. It has an impressive collection of books, DVDs, and periodicals on two floors and is well maintained and tastefully furnished.