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The Trendiest Startup Neighborhoods In San Francisco
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The Trendiest Startup Neighborhoods In San Francisco

Picture of Carly Salzberg
Updated: 13 October 2016
Young professionals are moving in waves to the concentrated city of San Francisco. Their mission? To claim their economic place in the future of glitzy tech lifestyle. As the promised land 40 miles south of the Silicon Valley-inspired culture of internet entrepreneurship, San Francisco neighborhoods are the breeding grounds for a very dense startup ecosystem.

The Mission

The tech boom in San Francisco has affected the oldest neighborhood in the city family by family, business by business and block by block. Young professionals are flocking to the Mission for its urban Latino edginess, its taquerías and the late-night falafel joints. White-collared tech workers at startups such as Small Batch, Inc., Posterous, Inc., or Crowdflower, Inc. who set up shop in the neighborhood are moving in among a largely working class Latino community and night life-obsessed hipsters. Today, the Mission is a very diverse and historically hip neighborhood, and its multicultural story can be seen by the colorful street murals painted by local artists.

SoMa

The rapidly gentrifying SoMa District is the heart of San Francisco’s competitive tech industry. Popular startups include Airbnb, TaskRabbit and Webpass. In this part of town, every day forgotten industry buildings are turning into industrially refined, fashionable spaces for innovative tech businesses, coffee shops, galleries and pubs. The people who live in this neighborhood work hard and play hard. Savvy professionals choose to congregate in SoMa’s high-rise apartments and stylish contemporary local establishments to enjoy all the perks of living at the center of an economically explosive city. With AT&T easily accessible blocks away by walking or public transportation, as well as a thriving night life and restaurant scene, SoMa is the right place to live in a city of tech-obsessed workaholics.

The Marina/Cow Hollow/Presidio

The benefits of living in the Marina/Cow Hollow/Presidio area include a populated circuit of cafés, dive bars, easy access to Chrissy Field, and authentic restaurants to fit the youthful yuppie lifestyle. With several Apple stores in either direction, and high-end sushi bars every other block, the Marina neighborhood is home to many 20-year-old professionals looking to spend money and enjoy themselves. It’s not unusual for new startup businesses in the surrounding area to host ‘hack nights’ or mixers that attract new employees. Startups in this neighborhood like JustAnswer, which connects visitors to their website with experts in a wide array of fields from medical to tech support, even offer their employees free transportation to and from downtown San Francisco.

The Financial District

As the primary business center of the city, the Financial District is home to San Francisco’s largest cluster of corporate headquarters, banks, law firms, insurance companies and real estate firms. All six San Francisco Fortune 500 companies – McKesson, Wells Fargo, PG&E Corporation, Gap, URS Corporation and Charles Schwab – are located in the district. However, some of the most successful startup companies in San Francisco also enjoy the sky-high views, top-level security and plenty of office space. By virtue of all the businesses in the area, there are also plenty of swanky little bars where many of the corporate bigwigs have been known to enjoy a martini lunch.

Palo Alto

Real estate agents know best how quickly Silicon Valley millionaires and other wealthy individuals are moving to old Palo Alto and driving up the price of homes. The green neighborhood with acres of blooming gardens and walkable enclaves has become one of the most prestigious and affluent neighborhoods mostly because of its proximity to Stanford University. Although a suburb, Palo Alto is largely a college town and, therefore, ground zero for many student and alumni start ups. The downtown is often populated with students, techies, faculty, staff and executives gathered at coffee shops, hip bars and restaurants to discuss ‘business as usual.’

Mountain View

From the days when Mark Zuckerberg first launched Facebook and years before that, Mountain View has maintained a long history with the technology industry and became home to some of the earliest technology companies including Google, Mozilla Foundation, Symantec and Intuit. Located right above the junction of Interstate 680 and 880 as well as the overlap of Route 101, this town enjoys the unique view of the South Bay. The location, like Palo Alto, is in close proximity to Stanford University, and represents another town that is settled by young tech professionals working for one of the many tech companies in the Mountain View Headquarters.

Pacific Heights

The quiet, residential neighborhood of Pacific Heights accommodates rows of perfectly aligned Victorian mansions that provide expansive views of the city. It is one of the oldest and most historically prestigious neighborhoods in San Francisco. It was first established by the nouveau riche of the late 1800s, when the construction of a new cable car line made the area accessible. Since then, the cable cars are still intact and the neighborhood has acquired a reputation for its luxurious lifestyle. Pacific Heights is located a block away from Fillmore St., where you may find high-end fashion stores, luxury items and original boutiques.

Noe Valley

Compared to the rest of the city, Noe Valley is a community with a high concentration of families. So much so that the locals call it “stroller valley.” The blocks between 21st St. to the north, Randall St. to the south, Dolores St. to the east, and Grand View Ave. to the west, are full of family oriented restaurants, cafés, playgrounds, as well as elementary and middle schools that create a laid back public vibe and tamed nightlife. Noe Valley is a sunny home for many established techies and entrepreneurs looking to settle down; the neighborhood provides an ideal location for growing families (and it is close to work).

The Tenderloin

Considered the run-down flatland area between Union Square and the Civic Center, the Tenderloin has received a lot of attention in the past several years from tech companies and professionals looking to change its reputation for crime and poverty. For years now, companies like Twitter have moved their headquarter offices to the Tenderloin at mid-Market St., as an incentive given by tax breaks coupled with an initiative to help clean up the community. As a result, thousands of wealthy and educated young workers began working and living in one of the city’s poorest areas. Rent has gone up, and the gap between the standard of living in the Tenderloin continues to increase; however, community service programs are growing.

Union Square

Union Square is a vital tourist destination known for its mainstream retail shopping plaza, grand hotels, theater, upscale department stores and walkable art galleries. The public plaza is bordered by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets in downtown San Francisco. As a cosmopolitan super center, this district provides the perfect office space for startups, venture-packed companies and small- and medium-sized businesses. Venture capital firms like Union Square Ventures are the early investors of major tech companies like Twitter, Zynga and Tumblr.