GET TO KNOW THE CASTRO 

The Castro District of San Francisco, commonly known as The Castro (coined by gay activist speaker Neil Davendra Vyas), within Eureka Valley, is widely considered the world's first, currently largest, and best-known gay neighborhood. The neighborhood is well known for its rows of restored Victorian homes and the historic Castro Theater, built in 1922, a fully operational movie house, having recently undergone impressive restoration for the film, Milk.

The Castro gets its name from the main thoroughfare, Castro Street, named after a prominent Mexican Army general. The district extends down Market Street toward Church Street and on both sides of the Castro neighborhood from Church Street to Eureka Street.

Today The Castro is mainly concentrated in the business district that is located on Castro Street from Market Street to 19th Street. Although the greater gay community was, and is, concentrated in the Castro, people who shop, eat and drink in the neighborhood live in the surrounding residential areas bordered by Corona Heights, the Mission District, Noe Valley, Twin Peaks, and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods. Some consider it to include Duboce Triangle and Dolores Heights, which both have a strong LGBT presence.

The Castro is bustling all day long with shoppers and tourists, but at night it really comes alive, as the restaurants and bars fill up and the Castro Theatre's neon marquee lights up the main drag. Even with the vibrant Castro nightlife, it remains one of the safest neighborhoods in the city and there are plenty of places where anyone, can feel at home.

 

Our Team 


Daniel Bergerac
Castro Merchants President
Owner- Mudpuppy's Tub & Scrub

"As a small business owner on Castro Street, I love the support and advise business people extend to each other.  As a resident of Castro Street, I love living in this small friendly village."

Scott Wazlowski
Castro Merchants Vice President
Bay Area Reporter

Scott is the Vice-President of Advertising for the Bay Area Reporter, the undisputed newspaper of record for the LGBT community, and their general-market partner publications the SF Examiner, SF Weekly, and Bay Guardian. Scott has been a resident of the Castro District since moving to San Francisco on Summer Solstice 1997.

Jeff Johnston
Castro Merchants Treasurer
Johnston Tax Group

I love the Castro because it is full of fun and passionate people who enjoy living and working here, like me!

Dr. Alice K. Charap
Castro Merchants Secretary
Chiropractor

Dr. Charap opened her office in 1978, watching the many changes of our neighborhood. She loves the spirit that embodies the soul of our community.

 

Steve Adams
Senior Vice President - Sterling Bank & Trust

Why I love the Castro: "We are the heart of San Francisco!

 

John Bellemore 
Q Bar, Midnight Sun, Edge, Beaux

I love that the Castro is a neighborhood everyone loves to celebrate in. From Pride to Halloween and every weekend in between, it's a place of inclusion and happiness.

Dan Glazer
Proprietor - HotCookie

When he’s walking his dogs “Cookie” and “Cookies”, Dan loves the freedom of expression that represents our neighborhood.

Ryan Hudson
The Apothecarium

A very friendly and open-minded community that has been at the forefront of Civil rights advancement for decades - what is there not to appreciate about the Castro and it's denizens?

Petyr Kane
Owner - Citizen, Body

Peter has watched the many improvements in the neighborhood over his 25 years in business and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “This is my home!”

 

Miguel Lopez
Co-Owner - Sui GENERIS Boutique
 
Why I love the Castro: “You have everything here: Great friends that you run into all the time, restaurants, services, Boutiques and probably the best weather in the city!”

Andrew McDonald
Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy

I love the Castro because it is full of fun and passionate people who enjoy living and working here, like me!

Mark McHale
Vanguard Properties

What I love so much is the sense of community in the Castro: friendly, interested, a little kooky, inclusive and always in transition. Every shop owner, visitor and neighbor is part of my extended family

Jenn Meyer
Local Take

The Castro is one of the friendliest neighborhoods in San Francisco. Hanging out and doing business here makes you feel like you're part of a team... and you'll love it no matter what team you happen to be on.

Catherine O'Shea
Vice President - Banking Center Manager Bank of America

Catherine loves the community of the Castro, especially when she can walk her Golden Retriever “Murph” and run into friends, customers and new faces.

Brian Springfield
Brian Springfield Design

I feel honored to live and work in the Castro. I love that while the neighborhood is still vibrant and changing, it remains special, creative, and accepting.

Jessie Woodward
Owner - Hi tops bar

What I like about the Castro is that I feel like I am in what exemplifies San Francisco the best.  All types of people doing everything you can imagine, there's really nowhere like it anywhere!

Richard Magary
MUMC Administrator

I love The Castro's winning combination as an international icon and destination, while preserving its character as one of San Francisco's special neighborhoods where locals and visitors from afar shop, eat, drink and stay.

our History


IN THE BEGINNING

Originally known as Eureka Valley, the Castro was once part of a large rancho owned by Jose de Jesus Noe, a Mexican land baron. He began selling it off in 1852, after the American conquest of California.

In the 1880s, German, Irish and Scandinavian immigrants began settling Eureka Valley and building handsome Victorian row houses for their big families. The Market Street Cable Railway connected Eureka Valley with the rest of San Francisco in 1887, creating a housing boom and turning the village into a thriving working-class neighborhood.

The current F-line Streetcars commenced operation in 1995 and serves as a daily transportation line between Fisherman’s Wharf and The Castro.


THE CASTRO IN THE 60's & 70's
 

Having transformed from a working-class neighborhood through the 1960s and 1970s, the Castro remains a symbol and source of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) activism and events.

The activism of the '60s and '70s forged a community with sizable political and economic power, and when the historic Twin Peaks bar at Market and Castro streets removed the blackout paint from its floor-to-ceiling windows, most took it as a sign that Castro residents were secure in their gay identity.

There were, however, tense and sometimes violent clashes with the police, and the assassination in 1978 of openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was a turning point in the community's history.

Milk's assassination and the impact of AIDS brought the community together and made activists of almost everyone; the Castro became not just open but celebratory about its thriving gay and lesbian population.