New Fillmore District and the People Who Love It
If San Francisco’s Fillmore District were a book, the main characters of its lively story would include jazz fans, food lovers, shopaholics and festival goers. Central to its plot would be Fillmore Street, one of the city’s ideal places for people-watching and soaking up some sunshine at a sidewalk café with San Francisco vibes.
Shopping, San Francisco-style
Experience a slice of local life. It’s not too hilly, it’s not like the mall and there’s no need for a car. A stroll along Fillmore Street is about independent clothing and one-of-a-kind jewelry boutiques, a few branch locations for trendy designer brands, some firm favorites in the health and beauty category, consignment stores for bargain hunting, international gift shops, shoe stores, bookstores, coffee shops, a vintage movie house and plenty of people-watching. Take in the scene while selecting a frozen yogurt flavor or waiting for a delicious thin-crust gourmet pizza to emerge from the brick oven.
On the Subject of Food
Few places are as blessed as Northern California for a bounty from the sea, fresh local produce, wine grapes and a temperate climate. This enviable combination has launched attracted top-notch chefs and culinary experts from around the world and launched the farm-to-table movement. Without a doubt, San Francisco a foodie town. The pleasures of great food -- but without fancy surroundings -- can be found in the Fillmore District. Making a final choice may the challenge. There’s Turkish or Thai, Indian or Italian, soul food, Korean, Cajun or crêperie...and more. When a piano bar or jazz performance is on the agenda with dinner, this is the place to tap your toes.
Western Addition’s story is connected to the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906. The area emerged following the destruction of 80 percent of the city which left more than half the city’s residents homeless. Ambitious rebuilding included theatres, movie houses and The Fillmore, a 1912 dance hall later turned famous concert venue. In the 1940s, Fillmore Street was America’s music mecca, attracting all the great talents to dozens of jazz clubs. Today, it’s home to Yoshi’s, a well-known jazz supper club with headline stars since 1972. Gospel music brunch, jazz piano and R&B live entertainment are on the weekly calendar next door at 1300 on Fillmore. Sheba Piano Lounge, Boom Boom Room and the highly-acclaimed new SFJazz Center a few blocks away make the Fillmore Jazz District the epicenter of the live performance urban jazz scene. Every summer the vibrant Fillmore Jazz Festival attracts more than 100,000 for open-air performances by top artists for the public’s enjoyment.
A photogenic five-tier Peace Pagoda graces the center of Japantown. Sent as a gift of goodwill from the sister city of Osaka, it stands at the center of America’s oldest and largest Japantown. Within a few square blocks, find ceramic tea cup sets, silky kimonos, calligraphy sets, bonsai in ninety shops at three shopping malls, plus a modern cinema, a spa offering traditional Japanese Shiatsu, a handful of independent hotels and dozens of restaurants serving sushi, sashimi, saké and other authentic specialties. Throughout the year, events and festivals such as Cherry Blossom, Obon, Aki Matsuri, Children’s Day, Ramen Day, Sumo Champions Exhibition and the Japanese Film Festival attract visitors to immerse themselves in the rich culture of Japan in this Western Addition neighborhood called “Nihonmachi.”
Did You Know?
- A wall plaque outside Benkyôdô sweet shop in Japantown indicates this was the birthplace of the fortune cookie in 1906.
- Clay Theatre is one of the city’s oldest, built in 1910 as a nickelodeon house.
- The old streetcar tracks can still be seen on Fillmore Street, the first route put back in service after the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906.
- The Fillmore has a psychedelic concert poster collection from the 60s in the lobby’s mezzanine level.