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North Beach is a neighborhood in the northeastern side of San Francisco, next to Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown. It's widely known as the city's Little Italywith many Italian restaurants, delis, bakeries and coffeehouses.
North Beach used to be an actual beach until the late19th Century when it was filled with a landfill and many warehouses and docks were built on it. After the 1906 earthquake, many Italian immigrants moved to the area because of the docks and fishing opportunities. Many prominent Italian-Americans such as Joe DiMaggio and Joseph Alioto grew up in the North Beach neighborhood.
After the 1950s, North Beach became more than just the epicenter of Italian-American culture in San Francisco. It came to be known as a prominent red light district, and after that in the 1950s as the home of the Beat Generation, which gave away to the San Francisco Renaissance and important avant-garde poetic and artistic activity. Since the 1980s, North beach hasfaced a lot of demographic change and with its proximity to the nearby expanding Chinatown; its population is quickly being replaced by Chinese Americans and young professionals.
When visiting North Beach, the main attraction is Columbus Avenue which has a significant number of Italian establishments despite the drop in Italian-American population in recent years. Here you can have delicious Italian fare and many other authentic dishes. If you're in the neighborhood and want to have a great meal, check out the Fior d'Italia, E'Tutto Qua, the Stinking Rose, Tommaso's, Caffe Greco, Washington Street Bar & Grill, Trattoria Contadina, and Golden Boy for a delicious pizza slice on the go.
If you want to just grab a snack while in the neighborhood, you can sit at one of its many sidewalk street cafes. For example, check out the famous Beat Generation-era Vesuvio Cafe. You can also get gelato at one of the many authentic gelaterias spread around North Beach such as Gelateria Naia, Yogen Fruz and Gelato Classico Italian.
Besides food, there are many things to visit while in North Beach, such as Washington Square, or the national Shrine of Francis of Assisi, which has a reproduction of the basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi. Another important religious attraction in North Beach is the Saints Peter and Paul Church on Filbert Street, where Joe DiMaggio got married. The church which is known as "The Italian Cathedral of the West," is also considered a prominent landmark in San Francisco and still holds mass on every Sunday.
While in North Beach, you can also check out the street named after famous Beat Generation poet, Jack Kerouac who once lived there and the Beat Museum. Be sure to check out some of the venues that symbolize the San Francisco Renaissance such as the City Lights Bookstore. If you're into art, you may want to stop by at the San Francisco Art Institute and the Academy of Art University.
While it's mostly known for its Italian character, North Beach is now a mixture of cultures and nothing symbolizes this better than the mural located on the corner of Broadway and Columbus Streets. This beautiful mural was painted by Bill Weber on two sides of a building with windows shows the many faces and cultures of North Beach, so make sure you check it out before leaving the neighborhood.
North Beach is bound by the neighborhoods of Telegraph Hill, Chinatown, the Financial District, Jackson Square and Fisherman's Wharf.