The place San Franciscans know as Eureka Valley has had many names since its first settlement by Europeans in the mid nineteenth century: Rancho San Miguel, Horner’s Addition, Most Holy Redeemer Parish, “the Sunny Heart of San Francisco,” and most recently, The Castro.1 Two hundred and forty years ago, the valley was a hinterland to the Mission Dolores settlement and then part of a large Mexican rancho. Over the course of less than fifty years in the late nineteenth century, Eureka Valley went from a rural fringe area of agricultural and industrial production to one of the city’s burgeoning streetcar suburbs. After surviving the 1906 earthquake and fire largely intact, the valley became a full‐fledged urban district, complete with its own local commercial district, civic and religious institutions, and city services. Widespread demographic shifts in the city and greater urban decentralization after World War II affected long‐standing change in Eureka Valley, underwriting its transition in the 1960s and 1970s into one of the country’s most well‐known predominantly gay neighborhoods.
As a neighborhood, Eureka Valley boasts historic properties ranging from some of San Francisco’s earliest surviving dwellings to sites significant for their association with LGBTQ history of the last twenty five years. Eureka Valley is also a neighborhood that continues to change, as evidenced by schemes of new infill residential development, new commercial development, and changing institutions and demographics.
Stiles, Elaine and the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association. “Eureka Valley (Castro) Historic Context Statement,” Adopted by the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission December 2017.