Castro District

Castro District


At the upper end of Market Street between 17th and 18th Streets is the area of San Francisco known as the “gay capital of the world.” A 20x40 foot rainbow flag flies in Harvey Milk Plaza to honor the life of the martyred city supervisor, who was shot and killed in 1978 in his office at San Francisco City Hall. The Gus Van Sant 2008 movie, “Milk,“ was filmed here with Sean Penn winning an Academy Award as the state’s first openly gay public official. Nearby Pink Triangle Park is a Holocaust memorial to gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual victims of World War II.

What was once San Francisco outskirts with cheap farm land for Irish, German and Scandinavian immigrants and then a working class neighborhood has developed into a colorful, thriving, upbeat, lively part of San Francisco, that throws the welcome mat out to everyone, gay, lesbian or straight. The main drag, Castro Street, caters to younger diners and shoppers. (The average age in the gay community is 31.) Bars, restaurants and unique shops attract loads of fun-loving types looking for great food, sidewalk cafes and all-night bars. People-watching is definitely a must here.

A bright beacon in the Castro is the Castro Theatre with its iconic neon marquee, a magnificent Spanish Colonial Baroque movie palace designed in 1922. It seats 1600 under a fantastic plaster ceiling mimicking an enormous tasseled tent. Classic Hollywood movies are a staple in the historic theater. This is also a venue for the yearly San Francisco International Film Festival. It was recently voted Best Arts and Entertainment/Indie Theater by readers of the San Francisco Chronicle.





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