The Heart and Soul of SoMa
First, the basics on location: SoMa is short for South of Market Street, so it’s on the doorstep of downtown. Once known as South of the Slot, the historic nickname referred to the cable car line that ran down Market Street. Today, vintage streetcars cover that route, transporting visitors to SoMa, home of the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park and the Moscone Convention Center. But, SoMa is diverse beyond baseball and business meetings, so we’ve asked local residents to describe SoMa in five bite-size pieces to present to our readers.
SoMa Means Museums
Affectionately called SFMoMA, the major cultural institution dedicated to 20th century art is one of a dozen museums in SoMa. Opposite the giant Moscone Convention Center, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is calling itself SFMoMA On the Go while the building undergoes a massive expansion due for completion in early 2016. Meantime, the SFMoMA collection is circulating to other locations around the city.
SoMa is also home to the Children’s Creativity Museum at 221 Fourth Street, with an ice skating rink, bowling alley and antique carousel adorned with a menagerie of 60-plus painted beasts, two griffin-covered chariots and two gondolas. At Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, city workers indoor and outdoor performances, an urban park with waterfall and a grassy lawn. There are changing exhibitions at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, a tiny Cartoon Art Museum, the newly renovated Museum of the African Diaspora, California Historical Society, San Francisco Railway Museum and others.
SoMa Says Play Ball!
San Franciscans like to think that AT&T Park is the best ballpark in the nation, but not only because they love the home team. They also love the stadium’s classic design with great views of the bay from the upper deck, the waterfront promenade, the vast array of really good food (try the garlic fries!) and the stadium’s handy location. Named for San Francisco Giants’ hero, Willie Mays,a bigger-than-life bronze statue of the player in action presides over the front entrance beside 24 palm trees. Mays’ retired number 24 is also reflected in the ballpark’s 24 Willie Mays Plaza address.
SoMa is Well-Connected
SoMa is a transportation hub with underground BART stations along Market Street, providing fast connections to Berkeley, Oakland, other points in the East Bay, and serving both San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport. Colorful, old-fashioned streetcars ply Market Street from north to south, such as the F Line from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Castro District. The Caltrain Station at 4th and King Street connects the city to Silicon Valley and San Jose. Access to major freeways, I-80, I-280 and US Route 101 are found in SoMa, too. In 2017, a major new hub known as Transbay Terminal will be completed close to the Ferry Building, where one of the new skyscrapers transforming the city’s skyline is known as Salesforce Tower, slated to be the tallest west of Chicago.
SoMa Means Business
In the nation’s second most densely populated city with rents to reflect this, SoMa houses a mix of artists and galleries, entrepreneurs and executives, developers and designers, students and career professionals in offices and dwellings from skyscrapers to walk ups. Popular as the district where startups frequently set up, settle in and grow, some of the tech offices here are household names, such as Google, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Major annual conventions, such as Oracle OpenWorld, Salesforce and Dreamforce, fill the Moscone Center and thousands of hotel rooms with delegates from all over the world.
SoMa’s Got Nightlife
It’s a mashup of speakeasy-style cocktail lounges, cavernous converted warehouses with state-of-the-art sound systems, comedy clubs, concert halls, electronic dance clubs, jazz clubs, piano bars, gay bars, wine bars and beer joints.
Did You Know?
- Yerba Buena Gardens is a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., where free concerts and performances are held at lunch hour all year-round.
- San Francisco's Municipal Railway has assembled one of the most diverse collections of vintage streetcars, trolleys, and trams in transit service anywhere.
- There are three breweries in SoMa: 21st Amendment, Gordon Biersch and Thirsty Bear and one winery: Bluxome Street Winery, complete with tours and a tasting room.
- On average, the SF Giants have hit five right field splash hit home runs into the water of the bay every season since AT&T Park opened in 2000. More than half were off the bat of Barry Bonds. Kayakers with nets wait in McCovey Cove to see if they can get lucky.