May 17th, 2019
SF Neighborhood Guide: The Fillmore District
The Fillmore District is a historic neighborhood in San Francisco characterized by its chromatic Victorian homes, jazz clubs and the famed Fillmore Auditorium, which was the mainstage for the Summer of Love movement in the 1960s.
The Fillmore was known as the “Harlem of the West” in the 1940s and 1950s for its eclectic jazz scene that attracted the likes of Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and John Coltraine. The neighborhood had upwards of 20 clubs hopping at any given night of the week, spots like Jack’s Tavern on Sutter Street or Bop City and Club Alabam on Post Street were well-established in scene.
Unfortunately, the high-energy heydays in the Fillmore were numbered, as city redevelopment displaced local businesses and locals in the 1960s. Today, the district thrives, attracting visitors because of its annual outdoor jazz fest, music clubs, Michelin-star restaurants and shopping. Here are some highlights.
Upper Fillmore is a good place to shop threads made by Bay Area designers. It’s located just outside the neighborhood and is an easy place to browse and shop around. The commercial district begins on Geary Street at the Japan Center and continues 10 blocks north to Jackson Street.
Athleta is a reliable source for high-performance wear for women. Their fabrics are breathable and comfortable, and their Give-it-a-Workout guarantee ensures total satisfaction. Located at 2226 Fillmore St.
Mio offers a smart, international selection of designers you won’t find at other boutiques. Issey Miyake Pleats Please from Japan delivers with new silhouettes; sensible designs from the beloved German shoe line Trippen are also available. There’s always something unique at Mio. Located at 2035 Fillmore St.
CultureThe Fillmore has a mix of cultures that continue to meld into each other. Rhythms of “The Harlem of the West” mix with Japantown to the north, free love of the 60s, and city development projects. The Fillmore isn’t just one thing – it’s a bit of everything SF.
The neighborhood’s prized outdoor festival, The Fillmore Jazz Festival, is held every Fourth of July weekend. It’s absolutely free and attracts people of all ages to Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy streets to see the live music from sunup to sundown. See this year's program.
To learn more about the neighborhood, visit the African American Art & Culture Complex. It's set in the historic Fillmore Jazz District and features Afro-centrist art of all different mediums. Exhibits and programming are always fresh! They're open from noon to 6pm Mondays through Sundays. Located at 762 Fulton St., corner with Webster.
The Painted Ladies
Yes it is touristy, but taking in the view of the Painted Ladies with the city skyline is a real San Francisco treat. It’s technically part of Alamo Square, but located in the greater Fillmore area, so you can’t miss it. We suggest you pick up something from the nearby Alamo Café and head over to the park at Alamo Square. Pick a spot on the green lawn to take in the sun and postcard-like view.
There are two Michelin-starred restaurants in the Fillmore. The unassuming State Bird Provisions is an affordable, casual restaurant that serves dinner dim sum-style every night of the week. Located at 1529 Fillmore St., between Geary and O’Farrell streets.
For a more upscale evening, make a reservation at SPQR. The San Francisco-meets-Italian fare makes for creative, homemade pasta dishes. The wine list isn’t lacking either. Located at 1911 Fillmore St., between Pine & Bush streets.
An obvious choice is The Fillmore Auditorium, a music venue that was an integral part of the Summer of Love movement in the 1960s. Starting with Nico and The Velvet Underground, The Fillmore saw Jefferson Starship, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and other legends. Today, the venue is owned by Live Nation and musical acts are mostly indie. See calendar.
Live music is also the main event at the Boom Boom Room. The long-time venue hosts leading musicians, but it’s also open for rap battles, DJ sets and other entertainment with no cover. 1601 Fillmore St.
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