SOMA – South Of Market Street In San Francisco

Popularly known as SoMa or SOMA, the south of Market Street area of San Francisco has evolved into one of the city's most eclectic hubs. It's all here — gay bars, trendy restaurants, a wholesale flower market, a train terminal, AT&T Stadium, a convention center, warehouses, jazz clubs, comedy clubs, and urban living.

In October 1993, Yerba Buena Gardens, the spectacular arts and cultural center, opened its doors, turning South of Market into San Francisco's artistic hot spot. The Garden's striking visual-arts building, its theater, its museums, its endearing outdoor spaces and gardens, plus the Moscone Convention Center, transformed what was once a skid-row alley into an impressive complex that has forever changed the face of SOMA.

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Five Things To Look For In SOMA

1. Jack London's Birthplace

1906 earthuake by Jack London

Celebrated author Jack London, was born on Third Street in 1876, and often reflected on the rough nature of the neighborhood in his work. You can view a plaque on the Wells Fargo Bank that marks his birthplace. Although he was living in Sonoma at the time of the 1906 earthquake, London returned to the city to report on the disaster and take photographs, including the one above of Market Street.

  • Brannan Street @ Third Street

2. Beaux Art Charm – US Court of Appeals Building

US Court of Appeals Building

The neoclassical federal building is recognized by its stone facade and fine marble-faced postal lobby. It sustained serious damages in the 1989 earthquake but was repaired and reopened in 1998. The good news is that an interior courtyard, once used as a mail-sorting room, is now a garden.

  • 95 Seventh Street

3. Rincon Center Murals

Rincon Center Murals

Built in 1940 as the Rincon Annex Post Office Building, this is one of the city's artistic & architectural masterpieces. It's now a complex of shops, offices, restaurants and apartments. The historic murals from the original building can be viewed in the public spaces of the center.

  • 101-199 Mission St

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4. Pacific Telephone Building

Pacific Telephone Building

It's one of the most beautiful skyscrapers in the city. This 1925 Art Deco gem was pretty much abandoned some time after the year 2000, but was more recently restored with a $60 million upgrade which includes a seismic retrofit, a sculpture garden and outdoor restaurant. It's where Yelp has its headquarters.

  • 140 Montgomery

5. Sea Change

Sea Change

Get a glimpse of the red, welded steel sculpture found at Pier 40 at the entrance to South Beach Yacht Harbor and the southern end of The Embarcadero. The 70-foot-tall sculpture stands on four legs that meet at the top. It's a much loved work by abstract expressionist sculptor Marco Polo di Suvero.

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History of SOMA San Francisco

AT&T baseball park

Close to The Embarcadero and San Francisco Bay, SOMA has always been home to industry. In fact, several foundries were established here in the 1850s, along with rows of tiny houses, lived in by the city's first working class citizens.

When it became apparent that the climate was warmest on this side of town, however, Rincon Hill (long since buried under the approach to the Bay Bridge), became a prestigious address. Small, elegant shops filled Second Street. Nearby South Park was a pioneer real-estate development promoted by George Gordan (1818-1869), a flamboyant Englishman who modelled an exclusive community on the plan of stately homes of London — elegant upstairs/downstairs Georgian houses built around an enclosed park, to which only the residents had access.

But, before Gordan's park was half built, the decline of Rincon Hill began, due to the persistent industrialization of the neighborhood. Its residents left for higher ground like Nob Hill and left their homes to immigrants who transformed them into rooming houses and machine shops. Remnants of grandeur can still be seen in South Park, especially on Third Street between Bryant and Brannan Streets.

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