San Francisco Neighborhood Map – Different Ways To See the City

This is a city with many diverse neighborhoods, but the boundaries between some of them isn't always clear. So, a San Francisco neighborhood map is bound to be a little interpretive, a little fuzzy at the edges. The city of San Francisco might have one interpretation, a professional map maker may have another. But one things for sure, there are a lot of neighborhoods, many of them with distinct characteristics.

Let's take a look at a few San Francisco neighborhood maps so you can get a feeling for what we mean when we talk about Russian Hill or Sunset or South of Market. All maps of San Francisco show three clear natural boundaries — water, water, water — and that's just one of the things that make this city unique.


A Great Graphic Map

Graphic Map

David McClure is the Technical Director of the Stanford Literary Lab; he also helped develop a digital-mapping tool called Neatline. Fooling around in his spare time (apparently, but how much spare time does a technical director have?, Davide created a graphic San Francisco neighborhood map that we think gives a true feeling for what's what and how the areas of the city relate to each other.

We don't really know how David's map is built, but we love how you can zoom in so tight that you can see every single individual street and even where the houses and buildings are situated. (You can also choose the Google satellite image as the background.) Details aside, the try beauty of this map is its wonderful graphic design and the clarity it gives to the man neighborhoods here.

Th Best Portable San Francisco Neighborhood Map


Online is great, but we also like to walk around with a good city map in our pocket. We know, we know — it's the 21st century and all that, but we love the feeling of a printed map and the different sense it gives us. And, for us, the map that best shows the San Francisco neighborhoods is the Borch laminated map.

It comes in an easy-to-read scale of 1:13,000, so you don't have to have hawk eyes or a magnifying glass to use it. It tri-folds up nicely and, since it's laminated, it wears well. (Waterproof, too. Always a plus in San Francisco.) And we're not the only ones who think so. A reviewer gives it 5 stars saying, "Extremely useful map! Great quality. I always buy Borch maps for every travel adventure!"

The City's Map

The City's Map

We tend to look at San Francisco the way a visitor would, to be able to tell you where to go for the best things to do and see. The City, though, looks at it more from a planning perspective, and groups neighborhoods accordingly. Their map is also made for planners and residents, but it's a pretty good tool for everyone. You can zoom in and out, of course, and you can search for any specific address in the city. At that level you can download a neighborhood organization contact spreadsheet (something that visitors aren't likely to need). Finally, you can choose the map under-layer so you can see streets or topography.


The Google Map

The Google Map

Google Maps map of San Francisco does a pretty good job of labeling the city's neighborhoods the way we think of them. It has all the features of any other online map, and lots more.

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