Some San Francisco neighborhoods still have the same names they were bestowed when the city was founded in 1776, while others have nicknames slapped onto them by real estate agents just a couple years ago. To understand why San Francisco neighborhoods have the names they have, we must first understand that San Francisco wasn’t always San Francisco -- it was a Spanish port after Spain colonized the area from the Ohlone people (1769), then became a Mexican city named Yerba Buena when Mexico declared independence from Spain (1821), and then San Francisco when the US claimed California in the Mexican-American War (1846).
All of these factions are still represented in modern-day San Francisco street and neighborhood names. Most neighborhoods have had many different names over the city’s history. Aside those named for very obvious reasons (Financial District, Fisherman’s Wharf) and those named for boring Gold Rush captains of industry (Haight-Ashbury, Cole Valley), how did San Francisco neighborhoods get their names?