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Get to Know San Francisco's Neighborhoods Courtesy of the Folks Who Live in Them

The People's Guide is Curbed SF's tour of the neighborhoods, lead by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Every so often we ask one of them to write a guide to their neighborhood. From microhoods like La Lengua to whole districts like the Richmond, you're sure to learn a thing or two about San Francisco's many neighborhoods. There's even a few gems about some Oakland neighborhoods as well. After the jump, a list of and snippet from every single People's Guide we've ever published.

Click the neighborhood name to be taken to the full People's Guide

Karl the Fog tells us about Judah Heights
Tell us something we don't know about your neighborhood: Since I'm constantly on the move, I'll consider the sky as my neighborhood. Or as we call it up here, "Judah Heights." Property sells better when you add "Heights" to the end of it. Rich people love elevation.

Something you don't know about Judah Heights is that once a month we have our own version of Critical Mass called Critical Sass. It's basically a runway competition for all us clouds. Think "Zoolander" meets "Miss Congeniality." For the talent portion, I eat a city of 800,000 people in less than a minute. I always win. [Photo via Esther Reyes]

Richmond SF Blog editor Sarah B. tells us about the Richmond
Hidden gems in the Richmond: It's hard to hide things in this day and age, but I'd say Lands End is definitely one of our local favorites. To walk out there and enjoy the views at sunset is awesome. Another favorite is the view from the de Young tower. And if you like to eat and enjoy the view, don't be afraid of the Bistro at the Cliff House - it's not only for tourists. We're fans of the Johnson Omelet at brunch - dungeness crab, avocado and sour cream.

Kearstin Krehbiel and the Excelsior
Tell us something we don't know about the Excelsior: We all know that San Francisco is a diverse city, but you really feel the best of that in my neighborhood. Once I heard 5 languages on my bus ride home. I've looked it up, and in fact the Excelsior is the most culturally diverse of all of the city neighborhoods. Even the streets reflect this diversity as they're named for countries and capitals from around the world. Where else can you stand at the corner of Moscow and Brazil? or Paris and Persia? [Photo via Julie aka Rudha-an]

Lisa and Simon tell us about Portola
Hidden gems in Portola: A walk will reveal the most surprising mix of homes. A double-lot cottage on Gambier that looks like it was moved wholesale from a midwestern farm. A very 1980s postmodern remodel on Felton and many other interesting buildings. Hillside Elementary school has a secret garden with a frog fountain. And the city's second largest park, MacLaren Park, has ponds and waterways which when the rain starts up, are the perfect places to float tiny homemade (biodegradable) toy boats. There are also "earthquake cottages" sprinkled throughout the area, shacks that went up in MacLaren Park to provide shelter after the 1906 quake and were sometimes moved to lots and expanded into houses. Look closely and you can see their original small frames.

Curbed SF associate editor Alex Bevk tells us about the Outer Sunset
Tell us something we don't know about the Outer Sunset? On sunny days, living near Ocean Beach feels like being on vacation. Plus you'll be hard pressed to find a neighborhood with as many outdoorsy adventure options - Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park, Fort Funston, Lake's a nature lover's dream.

Anna Marie tells us about the Inner Sunset
Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood? Plan no barbeques. Plan no outdoor wedding. Plan no outdoor concert. "Seasons" mean nothing to the gods of Inner-Sunset weather, who are deaf to your prayers and promises, and if you ask for sun and gentle breezes, you will be punished by swirling wet gales of wind and fog worthy of Dickensian London.

On the other hand, if you want that London (film shoot? Photo-sensitivity?), you'll get 80 degrees and nary a cloud in the sky.

Nicole Grant and Hayes Valley
Local customs of note: Here's what you'd probably be doing if you lived in Hayes Valley: 1. Dragging your sleepy self to Blue Bottle in the morning to catch up on the nabe gossip. 2. Fighting the "tourists" for cocktails at Absinthe. 3. Giving too many quarters to the old lady (slash expert panhandler) from the convalescent home. 4. Making up, breaking up, or being wooed at Momi Toby's. 5. Spying (er, people watching) in the Hayes Green. 6. Spending too much money on shoes.

Vic Wong tells us about Civic Valley
Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's swell or not so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood? It's cheap to live here. I rent an awesome exposed brick 1-bedroom for a price that would make most Mission folks swoon. The best part of the Civic Valley is it's central location. You can get on any major bus and BART in minutes. It's less than 15 minutes away from everywhere you'd want to go on a bike. Just take it easy on that triple lane change on Market and Valencia. On the negative side, it's boring and there are no good burritos which is why I go to the Mission every day.

Beth Spotswood and her Suburban Mission
Are your neighbors "Rotten Neighbor" worthy? If so, dish. If not? well, why not? I have two kinds of neighbors: Friendly families that have lived on our block for generations, remember my name and make sure I get in okay when I come home late at night. And people for whom the word gentrification (pronounced with disgust) was invented. One of my neighbors drives a Vespa, wears a fedora, worked for (impressive pause) Gavin Newsom, refers to himself as a "foodie", goes to Burning Man and snidely asks me about my "gossip column" while leaving angry letters for our postal worker taped to the mailbox. Need I go on?

Eater SF editor Carolyn Alburger tells us about the Upper Haight
Are your neighbors "rotten neighbor" worthy? If so, dish. If not?well, why not? Seriously I could go on and on about how wonderful my neighbors are. What people don't realize is, underneath all the touristy clatter and sidewalk begging runs a very strong community here. My next-door neighbors, for example, are mechanics who did a few thousand dollars of work on my old-as-nuts Acura in exchange for a 6-pack of Bud and a few bottles of Chardonnay. I also just helped them name their new little black chihuahua mutt. Would any of this have happened when I lived in Russian Hill? I think not. [Photo via Shannon Claire]

Burrito Justice tells us about La Lengua
Tell us something we don't know about La Lengua? It's not Bernal Heights. And it's not the Outer Mission -- that's next to Daly City. And it's not Noe Valley, despite all the strollers. La Lengua is like New Jersey or Korea -- trapped between bigger and more famous neighbors, but scrappy, proud and resourceful as a result.

It's bounded by history. The odd intersections of Mission/Cesar Chavez, Mission/Valencia and San Jose/Guerrero were largely determined by the old stone wall around José Cornelio Bernal's adobe homestead and the road from the Mission Dolores to San Jose. Our northern border is the old Southern Pacific railway line, hints of which can still be seen today, and the Bernal Cut continues to be the way south. There were once multiple streetcar barns in the neighbourhood. It has always been a transportation gateway to San Francisco, but only now has it developed its own sense of identity (but it's not SoCha, dammit!)

Bernalwood editor Todd Lappin tells us about Bernal Heights
Are your neighbors "rotten neighbor" worthy? If so, dish. If not... well, why not? I'd love to dish. (Bernalwood is all about dish.) But the truth is, my neighbors are fantastic. There's an unbelievable sense of warmth and community here. But it wasn't always quite so tidy: A house a few doors down from me was used by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in the 1970s as a safe house during the Patty Hearst kidnapping. Domestic terrorists are generally rotten neighbors, although I've heard that the SLA's Emily Harris was actually rather friendly.

Ben Lewis and Lake Merritt in Oakland
Local customs of note: Rod Dibble has been playing the piano at The Alley since God knows when. This is a spot that you can easily lose your bearings in and no one will know or care.
The first Friday of every month is a celebration of life called Art Murmur. Many of the art galleries, bars and restaurants in the area open their doors to the wandering souls of Oakland. It is a great way to visit several spots in one night, get a taste of several restaurants, act a fool and take in lots of local art.

Matt Baume and microhood Saint Mary's Heights
The final word on your neighborhood: I love it here -- just close enough to the busy bits without being stranded in the suburbs of the Richmond. I can ride my bike down to the Panhandle in 30 seconds, which means that I'm 10 minutes from the Lower Haight, 15 minutes from the Castro, and 20 minutes from the Embarcadero. Of course, it's uphill all the way back home.

Broke-Ass Stuart and the Mission
Tell us something we don't know about the Mission: Maybe you know this, maybe you don't. In the fire and earthquake of 1906 the entire area south of 20th St. was saved by a single fire hydrant. It's up at the top of Dolores Park at 20th and Church. Every year on the anniversary of the earthquake, they paint the hydrant gold. Why? Because he's a motherf***ing champ!

SFist editor Brock Keeling tells us about SoMa
Tell us something we don't know about SoMa? It was once referred to as South of the Slot, a reference to cable cars that ran up and down Market Street along a slot where the cables were attached. Jack London, who was born on Third and Brannan Streets, has a short story called "South of the Slot," which you should check out. [Photo via Bhautik Joshi]

Gaby Kupfer shows us around Oakland's Temescal neighborhood
Tell us something we don't know about the Temescal? It's become a lot better in recent years. Mosswood Park has almost completely shed it's moniker "Dead Hooker Park," and become a place for birthday parties and athletic practices again. There are a number of new businesses opening nearby, which has given our neighborhood its own identity beyond "laundromat-gas station-toilet sales."

SF Appeal editor and publisher Eve Batey tells us about the Outer Sunset
The final word on the Outer Sunset: It always surprises me when people get weird about the west side of SF, call it the suburbs (in a snide way) or say, as a terming-out Board of Supes member once did to MY FACE that "no one lives out there." Because, what? What did the west side of SF do to make you so...anxious? It reminds me of people who get suuuuper squirmy around gay folks. I love it out here, but we're certainly not trying to recruit you. But if you joined us, the Outer Sunset would welcome you, regardless of who you are, with open arms. You cannot say that about every nabe in SF!

Curbed SF contributor Abby Pontzer tells us about the Lower Haight
Hidden Gems in Lower Haight: What first struck me when I moved to the neighborhood was how much good, cheap (and late night) food was available. I could go every single day not spending more than $6 a meal - Love N Haight for sandwiches, the real Rosamunde's for sausage, newcomer Estrella for tacos.... the list goes on and on. I'm also a personal believer that The Grind is one of the best cafes in the city. Great, cheap food, outdoor seating, and really nice people.

Andrew Dalton tells us about the Panhandle
Tell us something we don't know about the Panhandle: Someone recently told me that Fell and Divisadero is the geographical center of the city. Looking on a map, I don't think that's quite accurate, but it is a good metaphor for the neighborhood, which is at the nexus of adorable and obnoxious.
· The People's Guide archive [Curbed SF]