San Francisco guide to New York neighborhoods

So you’re moving from San Francisco to New York. You liked your cute neighborhood and tasty burritos and you hope to replicate this existence somewhere in the Big Apple. Well kiddo, that’s impossible. Everyone knows there is no such thing as a good burrito in NYC.

This was the fate of a friend of mine a few weeks back. When she described her desires to a broker, this broker responded with, “you’ll probably like Williamsburg.” So this friend gets in the broker’s car and heads over a bridge to another part of town. Her reaction, later over email: “I expected it to be cute. Williamsburg is not cute.” Yes, Williamsburg is definitely not cute. It’s sort of like the Mission, and I’m sure almost anyone from SF would agree that the Mission is also not cute.

In response to this unfortunate misconception, I have constructed the San Franciscan’s guide to New York neighborhoods1. What follows is a socio-cultural mapping between cities, from my perspective. The fact that Murray Hill and the Marina are connected is entirely related to the number of white, greek-lettered hats you would find there.

San Francisco vs. New York
San Francisco vs. Manhattan

San Francisco New York
Financial District Midtown
North Beach Little Italy
Chinatown Chinatown
Union Square Soho
Soma Tribeca
Potrero Brooklyn Heights
Dogpatch Red Hook
Civic Center Civic Center
Hayes Valley Chelsea
Western Addition Carroll Gardens
Pacific Heights Upper East Side
Noe Valley Upper West Side
Marina Murray Hill
Haight Ashbury East Village
Castro West Village
Mission Williamsburg
Lower Haight Lower East Side
Russian Hill Park Slope
Fisherman’s Wharf South St. Seaport
Treasure Island Roosevelt Island
Sunset Brooklyn
The Richmond Queens
Berkeley Morningside Heights
Golden Gate Park Central Park
Tenderloin Wherever Giuliani put it
Stanford Princeton
Marin Westchester

1.   Of course there’s a lot of need for improvement. I would personally love to see similar guides made for every pair of cities (“I’m an Atlantan in Chicago. Where’s Little Five Points?”), but that’s a big task for one person with limited knowledge.

181 thoughts on “San Francisco guide to New York neighborhoods

  1. I like the Richmond-Queens analogy, but I think someone from The Richmond would be a bit overwhelmed by Queens in its entirely.

    Hells Kitchen (which is still there) is the proper analogue to the Tenderloin.

    Can we find a place to fit-in the Bronx (Hunters Point?) and Harlem? (Fillmore/Western Addition) And how about Staten Island (Treasure Island)?

  2. I think Richmond = Long Is. City. Hells Kitchen is waaay too nice of a neighborhood these days to be comparable to the tenderloin (Hell’s kitchen had 202 robberies last year, while Tenderloin is tracking at about 40 per month). I would say that West Oakland is a good sister to the Bronx. Harlem is just unique I think. The Filmore/WA could have a good companion in the Delancy St. area. Angel Is. = Governors Island. Ellis Island = Treasure Is. Staten Is. = Walnut Creek.

  3. I wanted to write an app to do this – but I’m trying to actually finish projects instead of starting a million ones that never go anywhere.
    I did play around with some Active Record models – totally not tested 😉

    class City :neighborhood, :foreign_key => “parent_neighborhood_id”
    end

    class Initial

  4. Oh. My. God. The thought of shipping all of our trash to Walnut Creek via ferry makes me laugh out loud. Seriously, I’m rolling on the floor laughing at all those families and the look on their faces when giant mounds of trash start showing up.

  5. Walnut Creek is too nice to be compared to Staten Island — I’d say Staten Island is more San Leandro or Union City. And Oakland is more Jersey City.

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  7. hell’s kitchen is the tenderloin? you must be smoking the same stuff all those folks the tenderloin are. at this point, no where in NYC even comes close to the tenderloin, aside from perhaps the A-train around 4:30am.

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  9. That list is a bit flawed. You can’t just compared one place to the entire borough of Queens or Brooklyn. Park Slope is a NICE Brooklyn neighborhood, expensive, cute… But there’s also Bed-Stuy and Brownsville — which is disgusting. Queens, you got nice areas like Astoria, and then places like Jamaica, Queens…

  10. Hmm… Hayes Valley is more Greenich Village than Chelsea IMHO. Also: I live in Pacific Heights and its anything but Upper East Side. Other than that – I think you got most of ’em right. 🙂

  11. I like Williamsburg, the part surrounding Bedford near the JMZ. But yeah, the rest of Williamsburg can feel like Mission meets “Streets of Fire” inhabited by Hassidics of every stripe.

    Another thing, coffee — my goodness, if the beautiful residents of NY would stop drowning their coffee with milk and sugar they would be able to taste how icky their coffee is. Final thing, single ply toilet paper — what the hell? Why does everyone I run into in NY (rich and poor, surgeon to poet) use the stuff?

  12. also, the civic center comparison isn’t quite right – if i remember correctly, the civic center in SF was filled mostly with homeless on the off hours, while the civic center in ny (which is the first time i’ve ever heard of city hall area called civic center) is much nicer on the weekends. more like the nice part of the financial district.

    and i always thought rockridge was more of a park slope comparison.

  13. The only good tenderloin comparison i can think of is far east alphabet city, like avenues C and D, from 14th st all the way down to the LES. but even that doesn’t match the Tenderloin for sheer sketchiness.

  14. dhalia… you’re right, no one in NYC calls it Civic Center… usually just City Hall… though, interestingly, I’m pretty sure there’s a exit sign on either the FDR or the BQE that refers to it as Civc Center.

  15. Park Slope is SO Noe Valley. I remember thinking that when I first laid eyes on Noe Valley ten years ago. I haven’t been to SF in some time, so maybe Russian Hill has changed, but from what I remember about Noe Valley was white lesbians (the people who inspired the neighborhood’s affectionate nickname, “Snowy Vulva”) and/or sensitive yuppie couples, pushing sport utility strollers, and lots of overpriced but delicious and cozy places to eat and drink coffee and buy organic food.

  16. Although both are north of their respective cities, I don’t think that MarinWestchester makes the best association. I’d go with MarinLong Island instead.

  17. I actually had the Park Slope/Noe Valley alignment originally as well (for sheer number of strollers and leashes), but was convinced by a friend that Park Slope was a little too gritty in parts for the comparison.

  18. Awesome!
    Bayview = Harlem.
    Excelsior = whatever neighborhood the working class minority families being pushed out of williamsburg are moving to.
    south san francisco = industrial corridor of north central nj.
    oakland = newark
    SF needs a Hoboken (like I need a punch in the face).

  19. What about the San Bruno & the Peninsula?
    It would be the Bay Area’s New Jersey…..
    Presidio=Gateway NRA
    East Village=Duboce Triangle
    San Jose=Connecticut
    OAKLAND=BROOKLYN

  20. As a Bay Area native (exact location withheld to protect the innocent) who permanently moved to NYC 8 years ago, it always amazes me how people around the country compare/contrast their cities with NYC (and other places). But in NYC itself, no one really does that. I guess if you live in the greatest city in the world, you don’t have to define your home in terms of someplace else (e.g., “Buenos Aires is the Paris of Latin America”).

  21. i agree–this is awesome!
    noe valley is definitely more park slope than upper west side
    harlem is oakland
    washington heights=mission

  22. Cameron, that’s actually what made me notice how people define something in terms of something else as a way of “trading up” whatever is connected to them. Years ago, a woman was bragging to me about some special university program she was accepted into, and she described it as “the Harvard of the South.” It just struck me that, if you have to define yourself by reference to something else, you ain’t all that. I mean, do people at Harvard run around saying “We’re the [fill in the blank university] of the Northeast?” I doubt it. Harvard is Harvard. Period. No need to associate Harvard with anything else. It stands quite nicely on its own.

  23. bambalina

    you are exactly right! My husband and I recently moved to NYC from SF and we were looking for a neighborhood that was small and walkable where we would run into other people we knew in the neighborhood. But we also wanted a large space that was affordable. We chose Washington Heights and it definitely reminds us of the Mission–esp. East of Broadway. West of Broadway reminds us of the Bernal Heights section near the Mission. Not quite as gentrified yet, but getting there

  24. Well, hell, I’ll throw another monkey wrench in the works here, since I worked on this for half an hour.

    Here is my equivalency chart of San Francisco to Los Angeles neighborhoods, which is probably useless, since nobody from San Francisco would even consider moving to Los Angeles. But here it is anyway:

    Financial District Financial District
    North Beach No equivalent
    (Little Italy taken over by Chinatown)
    Chinatown Chinatown/San Gabriel Valley
    Union Square Rodeo Drive (Beverly Hills)
    Soma Historic Core
    Portrero Echo Park
    Dogpatch Lincoln Heights
    Civic Center Civic Center
    Hayes Valley Silver Lake
    Western Addition West Adams/ Leimert Park
    Pacific Heights Beverly Hills
    Noe Valley Los Feliz
    Marina Marina del Rey
    Haight-Ashbury Hollywood
    Castro West Hollywood
    Mission Boyle Heights
    Lower Haight eastern West Hollywood
    Russian Hill Brentwood
    Fisherman’s Wharf San Pedro
    Treasure Island Santa Catalina
    (bit of a stretch but it’s our only island)
    Sunset Santa Monica
    The Richmond West L.A.
    Berkeley Pasadena
    Golden Gate Park Griffith Park
    Tenderloin Central City East (aka Skid Row)
    Stanford USC
    Marin Rancho Palos Verdes
    The East Bay The San Fernando Valley

  25. Tenderloin = Bushwick.

    Possibly parts of the Boogie Down.

    Oh yeah Eric – parts of Jamaica Queens are nice.

    The F train
    (www.savecara.com)

  26. Little Five Points in Chicago?
    You’re looking to hang around the “Punkin’ Donuts” at Clark and Belmont.

    Not as many aging hippies, and no missionaries handing out breakfast on Sunday..other than that, it’s the same.

    Missing both cities 🙁

  27. Thanks Scott, I’m hoping to work out a few more cities, and LA is one I’m not very familiar with. And knowing both Chicago and Atlanta, you’re exactly right. Clark and Belmont, near the Army Surplus store, is exactly L5P.

  28. it would be interesting to see cost of living comparisons for each of these neighborhoods… we moved from potrero hill to murray hill… we see blue haired old ladies with little dogs on park ave… the marina crowd doesn’t usually stray past 3rd ave

  29. I’d say Pac Heights = 10021 and Russian Hill = 10028, both Upper East Side but one a little more bluehaired than the other. But Russian Hill has too few strollers to be Park Slope.

    Instead, I’d say Noe Valley is equal parts Upper West Side and Park Slope, and Bernal Heights is more Park Slope/Windsor Terrace.

  30. Others may be right that it’s too much to equate even largish SF neighborhoods with entire NY boroughs, but if you’re going to, I think you have to flip these:
    You have:
    Sunset –> Brooklyn
    The Richmond –> Queens

    But I should think the Sunset is a much better match for Queens. And the Richmond seems a closer match for a Brooklynish demographic these days (although let’s face it — both Brooklyn and Queens are incredibly diverse and just huge, whereas the Richmond and Sunset are comparatively tiny — and incredibly diverse).

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  32. Wow dude, how long has it been since you’ve been to NY? I’ve lived in both NY and SF and most of these aren’t even close. Carroll Gardens and the Western Addition? Soho and Union Square? And the Sunset is equivalent to ALL of Brooklyn?

    I appreciate the attempt but you need to do a little more research. I think perhaps a visit to NY is in order. 🙂

  33. San Francisco is a collection of neighborhoods with distinct personalities, so comparisons must be made on a more granular level. Think Pacific Heights/Carnegie Hill (not Upper East Side). Now, are there really people in NYC you’d want to call neighbor?

  34. this is cool, i guess but it makes me a little sad that the neighborhood i love is more or less the same in cities across america: cambridge/central square=the mission=wicker park=williamsburg

    resistance to corporate domination works to keep neighborhoods real up to a point but what do you do in the face of global hipster homogenization??

  35. I really do love both SF and NYC, but I have to say that the overall impression that this list instills is that SF is so much lamer than NYC.

    Of course, this was always kind of obviously true. San Francisco is charming and provincial, while New York is…New York.

    But seeing the neighborhoods laid side by side like this really drives it home. This kind of comparison does a disservice to the areas in which San Francisco actually shines, such as weather and burritos.

    The Sunset = Brooklyn? Wtf?

  36. cam, just found me an apartment just between red hook and carroll garden in brooklyn this weekend! with my SF apartment just between the mission and castro and haight, I think I’ve established an appropriate bicoastal warp zone for myself…

  37. Mission = Spanish Harlem
    Nob Hill = Murray Hill
    Upper Fillmore + Castro = West Village
    Tenderloin = Bedford-Stuyvesant
    Village = Hayes Valley
    SoMa = TriBeCa + Hell’s Kitchen

  38. Not all of Oakland is like Harlem, either. There are some neighborhoods in Oakland that are very much Upper East Side.

    To me, Union Square is like Times Square, as far as hustle-and-bustle and transportation hubs go (cable car/BART/Muni transfer points vs. the Times Square shuttle/subway/etc.). I mean, if you’ve seen Union Square on any given weekend (and especially during the holidays), that place is freakin’ madness. Minus the roasted nut carts during the winter. (Yum!)

    Thanks for posting this. You’ve really helped soothe my feelings of Manhattanlust for the moment.

  39. I find most of these comparisions to be reaching quite a bit. But I will say the Mission is very much like Williamsburg. When I lived in S.F. I could not afford to live in the shmancy part of the mission (a.k.a. 16th and Valencia) so I lived futher south in the scarier part (2oth and Folsom, where amongst other things, I was once caught in the middle of a drive-by shooting). Now that I am in the ‘Burg, as I like to call it, I don’t have the funds to live anywhere near cutesy Bedford (so similiar to Valencia!!!) so I live in South Willie B (where three of my friends have been mugged by knife and/or gun point) Notice the connection yet? Broadway, with its plethora of 99 cent stores, looks so much like Mission ave it’s remarkable.
    BUT after saying all this I must refute the “no good burrito place in NY” assumption. Have you ever heard of the Puebla? Yeah, it’s that region of Mexico responsible for a tidle wave of immigrants whose influx has provided much lovingly prepared Mexican delights including, but not limited to fantastic burritos here in the NYC. If you come to NY from SF send me a shout and I’ll show you where to find the best Oaxacan joints this side of the Mississippi. Top your Mission burrito experience anyday. Promise.

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  43. as a recent sf>nyc transplant, who has lived in western addition and now lives in carroll gardens, i would have to argue that comparison…not sure if you’ve been to carroll gardens lately, but now it’s all brownstones with gardens, expensive restaurants and high-end boutiques (tho’ there are still nooks of gritty urbanity if you know where to look)…feels closer to noe or hayes valley to me, although it was probably closer to w. addition when I first moved here 3+ years ago…

    also…i’d say oakland is jersey (just the part near nyc)…i.e. jersey city = downtown, hoboken = rockridge, bergen county = piedmont, etc…

    just my 2 cents…or 4 maybe 🙂

  44. As someone who spent most of her late childhood in Bergen County I can say that piedmont is NOT like Bergen County. Bergen County is an incredibly diverse place with over 70 municipalities. You’d do a lot better with picking a specific town in BC (say, um Ridgewood??) Rather than generalizing a place which includes towns like Teaneck (full of Hassidic Jews & African-Americans…) and Saddle Brock (a more ‘working class’ community perhaps?).

    Furthermore, Oakland has always felt more like Newark to me.. a pretty sizeable transportation hub with a huge crime problem. The NJ towns right outside of NYC (Hoboken/Jersey City) are actually getting to be really nice, and probably don’t deserve the downtown Oakland comparison.

    Also, all of you who live in Carroll Gardens — you must go to Le Petit Cafe! They have the best Brunch! And GET THE FRENCH FRIES. They are phenomenal (Its @ Court & Nelson.. near the Smith/9th street stop).

    PS: I’ve lived most of my life in NYC (including some time in both Queens & Brooklyn but mostly Manhattan) who went to MS/HS in Bergen County and now lives in Berkeley for grad school.

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  48. Ray had some good comparisons.

    I also agree that NYC Hell’s Kitchen is nothing like SF’s Tenderloin. Maybe decades ago…

    I lived for nine years in Carroll Gardens. I’m not an SF expert, but Western Addition does not feel the same in any way.

    Deep Breath. I’ll hold your hand. I made the big leap, got over the stigma and moved a few years ago to the “Six Borough” – Hoboken, NJ! I knew I would like it, but wow! I love it! My commute to Manhattan is less than half the time. Cute stores. Nice cafes. I look at the Empire State Building from my living room. It’s like living a small town, but Manhattan is the view across the river. I love it. But my friends still struggle with Jersey thing. After all, they finally got used to the idea of Brooklyn – esp. once Smith St. in Carroll Gardens got hip.
    However,I am curious what people think would the be SF equivalent? Also, because it’s looking like I may be moving from my beloved Hoboken to SF later this year.

  49. This is so lame…I’ve lived in New York for 7 years until Aug 06 when I moved to SF…I’m moving back to NYC in a week (work keeps me moving) but I’ll say this…im not all that excited about it

    NYC is such an empty culture…I love how people who live there think they are like living in the “center of the world”…get real they are living in a vacuos bubble of bs…SF is such a gem of a city and it pains me to see bay area sellouts praising new york as a superior city when it is clearly not in many ways…sf has resisted this culture of celebrity that LA and NY propagated by puff daddy paris hilton MTV and the worst culprit Sex and the City…the culture of SF is such that it intellectually prioritizes better things and is much more balanced in terms of lifestyle than NYC will ever be…the food is BETTER because it is made with more grace and creativity and fresher ingredients…and its not like eating in an nice nyc restauraunt where its a star f*cking atmospher (hey i got an 830 rez at Dorsia)…granted NY has things SF will never have such as pointless clubland murders, overbearing velvet rope attitudes endless lines of cokewhores at bungalow8 and relatively crappy weather (jk jk…or am I?)

    Anyways I am looking forward to going back but not because of new york but because my family, girlfriend and friends live there

  50. oh, I just noticed Scottybgood’s post where he suggested Rockridge for Hoboken. I don’t know Rockridge.. will need to check out. I agree today’s Carroll Gardens feels closer to Noe or Hayes Valley (from what I’ve seen).

  51. NYC transplant: if you think NYC has an “empty culture,” I suspect that’s a reflection on you. Perhaps you should stop hanging out in the Meatpacking District.

  52. As someone who has lived for long periods of time in both NY and SF, I find this very funny and somewhat accurate in parts. But I must protest: West Village = Castro? NO. The West Village is quaint, beautiful, charming….and the Castro is in your face cheesy sexcapades 24/7 (seen the video store window displays or the meth addicts roaming around at all hours?) Nowhere even close. And Williamsburg is not as sketchy as the Mission – at all. I lived there for almost 10 years and wasn’t ever scared. SF’s Tenderloin and parts of the Mission are waaaaay scarier than any part of Brooklyn I ever saw.

  53. Bernal Heights is definitely Park Slope. I live in the one, my best friend in the other, and the parallels are so clear…the lesbian moms, the dogs, the proximity to a big old park.

  54. Regarding the LA and SF comparisons. I just moved from LA to SF. Noe Valley in particular. I do not see any similarities between any LA and SF neighborhoods at all. I thought Noe Valley would be like Brentwood or parts of Santa Monica, but it isnt. The Marina in SF is kind of like main st. in Santa Monica and the people are post college fraternity types like the rental parts of Brentwood. Pacific Heights is nothing like Beverly Hills. Oddly enough Union Square has the high end shopping of Beverly Hills, but not the residential. Union Sq. actually borders the tenderloin which is the one of the worst parts of San Francisco.

    I think the comparisons between SF and NYC make more sense, but not SF/LA. The cities are just too different…even the suburbs are different. The east bay is nothing like the SF Valley. The east bay past oakland is like “the country” rural with very little to do. The SF Valley is not rural at all. In fact, it is very built up and congested just like the rest of LA.

    The next point of why you cannot compare LA to SF is that SF is really like a city and LA is a giant, sprawling series of suburbs where you need to drive everywhere. There are very few places you can walk in LA and everyone has a car.

  55. WTF! What about Twin Peaks, Sea Cliff, and St. Francis Wood? Amazing how a city with about a tenth the size and population can go toe to toe and come out quite well.

  56. I just don’t get how anyone could compare the Sunset or Richmond (large neighborhoods, but small parts of SF) to the entire CITY of Brooklyn.
    !!Oakland is so obviously San Francisco’s Brooklyn!! Oaktown has it’s own skyline, museums, universities and it’s even across a bridge to the east.

  57. why would anyone bother comparing LA and SF in this thing anyway? I actually moved from SF to LA recently for a job, and although I had never really been here and only heard bad things about it, I found out how untrue things are. LA neighborhoods are really nice compared to SF’s and although you may need a car, it sure as hell beats standing in a crowded muni train/bus where it always smells like piss and you’re guaranteed to have at least one crazy homeless guy yelling at you…and Pacific Heights has NOTHING on Beverly Hills, absolutely nothing…it’s sad to see how envy/bitterness make people say things that aren’t true about other places. SF cares too much about comparing itself w/ the rest of the world. it ignores its faults (of which there are plenty) and just tries to reassert its good qualities everytime it gets. Get over it people, SF is pretty lame. The scenery around it is nice, but SF is just an irrelevant place trying too hard to be relevant.

  58. I’ve seen my neighborhood mentioned incorrectly at least twice here (in the comparison and in a comment.) To set the record straight, the SF neighborhood is properly called “Potrero Hill”; not Portrero Hill nor Potrero.

    Thank you.

  59. This is hilarious! I currently live in SF but will be moving to NY by the end of this year. Wouldn’t the Castro be more appropriately compared to Chelsea? Ah, well… I’ll have to be sure to post my own comparisons.

  60. My $0.02:

    Rockridge = Park Slope
    Berkeley = Williamsburg
    Parts of the Castro + parts of Noe Valley = West Village
    Market = Midtown, to a degree

    I really never thought I’d find NYC cleaner, more well mannered, and less obnoxious than my beloved Bay Area. Alas, my last trip proved this to be true.

  61. The Marina in SF is more like Hoboken in NJ. Both are filled with preppy yuppies. NYC doesn’t have a Marina-like neighborhood.

  62. San Francisco is like a small town compared to NYC. everything in San Francisco is pretty much scaled down from its NYC counterpart. I was born and raised in NYC, and lived there until I was 25, and I now live in the Bay area. These cities are just not comparable in my opinion, though they are both special for their own reasons.

    NYC is THE megalopolis, the capital of everything; it is a world city. It offers the greatest in shopping, entertainment, business, theater, food, museums, architecture, etc. that the world has to offer. Everything is bigger and brighter than anywhere else. It is diverse in every way possible, and offers everthing from high end retail, to beaches, to golf, to symphonies, to top tier academic institutions.

    San Francisco on the other hand is an incredibly unique, “charming” place. The topography, the climate, the region where it sits, the unique architecture, and diversity make it special.

    These cities do indeed share similarities. The layouts are very similar, and pretty much unique to these two places. Whereas other American cities are pretty much central business district (CBD), slums, and suburbs, NY and SF have everything in between, all in proxmity to each other. Yes, Boston, Chicago, LA, etc. aren’t exactly “CBD–>slums–>suburbs”, they are just not the same as NY and SF. These cities have clear, distinct neighborhoods, every one of them different from the others.

    While most of my thoughts are in regards to Manhattan, the outer boroughs offer their own special characteristics (both good and bad of course). This is another reason why it is difficult to make this comparison.

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  64. Perhaps I’m going too far south, but the Santa Cruz boardwalk is definitely a close parallel to Coney Island.

  65. Some of the previous posters keep comparing the city of Oakland as a whole to places like Harlem, Newark, Brooklyn, etc. Oakland is quite diverse both ethnically and socioeconomically. Here are my comparisons of individual Oakland neighborhoods to areas in NYC:

    Rockridge = Park Slope
    Oakland Chinatown = Manhattan Chinatown
    New Chinatown = Flushing
    Fruitvale = Jackson Heights
    Downtown = Brooklyn Heights
    Lakeshore/Lake Merritt/Adams Pt./Grand Lake = Williamsburg
    West Oakland = Harlem
    Elmhurst (Deep East Oakland) = Brownsville
    Temescal = Astoria

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  67. Never been to Atlanta, so I don’t know what the equivalent of Little Five Points would be.
    This is a great idea, although one should recognize that not everyone has the same opiion of what a neighborhood is like. In Chicago, some might find Wicker Park as a trendy, mult-cultural neighborhood, while another might find it more gentrified and pricey. In that case, which neighborhood in S.F. would it best mirror?

  68. Being from north jersey and having lived a couple of years in the Bronx and five 1/2 years in the TL, I think Oakland – Newark is right on. Newark is also diverse, it just (at least in my experience 9-10 years ago) doesn’t have the trendy neighborhoods like Rockridge or Piedmont.

    But have to say SF/East Bay is unique. Having seen some megacities over the years, SF (which isn’t a megacity like new york) is still one of the best places to live in the world that I’ve seen (just wish it was a bit cheaper).

  69. Hoboken, NJ is to Berkeley, CA
    Tomkin Square Park is to Dolores Park
    Washington Square Park is to Civic Center
    15th Street (Vzzz) is to Golden Gate and Larkin (Pill Corner)

  70. i’m moving from ny>sf in two days. been living in the village. i don’t see anything about cole valley/ashbury heights here. any feedback on those two?

  71. Cole Valley/Ashbury Heights is roughly the gentrification of the Haight. It’s the large, family-friendly houses of either the ex-hippies who sold out and got money in the 80s and the kind of people who think the Haight seems cute, but want more high-end boutiques and fewer of those dirty people with the weird hair that drive down property values.

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  73. For the record, the author did a pretty good job. But I think pac heights / russian hill are both upper west. Gold Coast / Sea Cliff are upper east. Noe is Park Slope (that’s actually a perfect fit).

    Some of the comments are funny too… I like oakland = newark, bayview = harlem. To that, I’d add that Richmond/Antioch/etc is Trenton. Fairfield is Camden. Sacto is Philly. Stockto is Baltimore. Reno is AC. Tahoe is the Hamptons (except more awesome).

  74. Ok, so i get it that this is an urban planning blog but. . . this is such fuckin cliched crap! What does every New Yorker do in every city? She goes to (and yes, I’m a New Yorker)…she says, “omg, like…Le Marais is so west village,” “Santa Monica is so UWS with cars.” Ok…so you’re studying urban planning so we get it, you’re into this shit… but ur a little too wide eyed and innocent for my taste. Lets be honest that this blog deserves to be made fun of a la Gawker! At least those snide bitches would encourage us to laugh at your ‘oh-i’m-so-cosmopolitan’ crap. Oh ur smiley ass thinks ur deep! ooooooh ur no fucking better from some valley girl / jap, “omg, like this is sooooo….like omg, hold one while I maps it on my iphone / blackberry pearl”

  75. SOOOOOOOO useful, thank you!! Contemplating an SF to NY move and this has helped us map {Noe, Bucktown (Chicago)} to {UWS, Park Slope}. Can’t wait to check them out!!

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  78. I’ve lived in both SF and NYC and ….
    NYC is way better than SF in every respect except access to nature and the outdoors.
    NYC has REAL people, heaps of culture, museums, art exhibits, shows (lots of them are free, especially during the summer in central park- shakespeare in the park, etc), cheap eats (amazing thai places for $5 a meal, etc), and the sheer size of the city makes it so that you will always find your niche. Plus, the subway system is FAR SUPERIOR than the muni. The subway, while it can be dirty (not the actual cars but the steps leading down to the subway), is FAST, efficient and will take you anywhere you need to go all over manhattan.

    The muni is SLOW, dirty, and has way creepier people than the nyc subways ever could have. Most importantly, it doesn’t go everywhere. And more significantly, most people in SF have cars and thus the people stuck taking the muni are old, poor, creepy, and homeless.

    Whereas in NYC, no one has a car (even rich people don’t- it doesn’t make sense and it’s pretty impractical) and thus everyone takes the subway, even the wealthy folk which makes the subway experience more real and interesting. Although rich people tend to take cabs more often, but even still most take the subway.

    AND CABS! Oh my god- can’t get a cab in SF if your life depended on it. NYC- cabs abound everywhere. $5-$8 total to pretty much anywhere on the island.

    Last but not least, everyone comes to new york at some point throughout the year…to visit, see friends, see a show, etc. And thus when you’re here, you always see your friends. Yet when living in SF, you’re the one who always has to go out to the east coast to see people.

    While SF has great views of the pacific ocean, and there are awesome hiking trails, and cliffs and nature, that’s about all it has going for it.

    I say, when you’re in your 20’s live in NYC.

    When you’re older and settled with a hubbie/wife and kids, live in SF….unless you can afford NYC.

  79. all of the “nyc is way better than SF” comments are the exact reason why i moved from nyc to SF it’s impossible to live amongst people who truly believe that they are the center of everything. yes, nyc has great things to offer as a place to live, so does SF, so does chicago. but why is it always new yorkers yelling out their annoying claims that their city is better than all the rest! do they need some validation? are they mad that other cities exist? the best comment was from logan “there are REAL people in nyc.” what does that mean exactly?

  80. I live in Harlem on Central Park North, which is a great neighborhood. In 5 years, I haven’t witnessed or any crimes or felt uncomfortable… but feel it’s wise to stay aware of what’s going on around you. I like that my neighborhood is undiscovered, culturally diverse, has access to the park and is relatively safe for a single girl. Is there an area in SF or Oakland that compares?

  81. I am totally having an anxiety moment ’cause I’m moving to San Francisco in a month from NYC..I lived here for a LONG LONG TIME, but want to try a new place…but what if that’s a mistake? : O

  82. You can’t really compare SF to NYC. SF has under 1 million people and NYC has over 8 million. It’s like comparing worms to whales.

  83. I don’t think anyone is trying to do anything more than find a fitting neighborhood. To compare the cities beyond that is ridiculous.

    I love San Francisco. I cannot imagine living anywhere else. It is different than NYC. I used to say that the biggest problem about living in SF is its distance from NYC. But, that doesn’t mean that I want to MOVE to NYC. It just means I like visiting NYC.

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  86. I live in Ridgewood? Bushwick. The graffiti writers call it Ridgewick. The neighborhood is 9 stops out and cheaper than Williamsburg but just as artsy. There are galleries, artist lofts and new restaurants popping up all the time. The neighborhood is quickly becoming gentrified but has a diverse population of Romanian, Polish,Puerto Rican and now Mexican. Because of the new Mexican influx you can get great Burritos, Enchiladas, Mole, Flautas, Tacos, Tamales etc from local restaurants and street carts. NY has everything you have to know where to look.

  87. I was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and am planning on moving to SF in a few months. I wanted to hear what people thought of comparable neighborhoods. The UWS is a very Jewish-influenced, family neighborhood, with lots of great restaurants, delis and diners. Very safe, very casual and very un-pretentious… basically, the opposite of its East side counterpoint. I’m in my mid-20s, and I’d love to live somewhere that’s a mix of the UWS’s comfort mixed with some Greenwich village.

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  89. sf and ny are both on coasts and english is a unifying language – but really – contrast more. golden gate park is more like a highway with trees (Taconic parkway or say Staten Island) – not to mention San Francisco is nice if you have a car, and a tech, wine, or yoga job, (or feeding off people in those industries) is good at community organizing – and rainbow type groceries – but is incomparable – socially, economically, barometric pressure, education, public transportation, inverted commute to work, etc. DATA: 94110 (this zipcode covers several neighborhoods in SF http://www.city-data.com/zips/94110.html | 11211 (covers most of on neighborhood on BKLYN): http://www.city-data.com/zips/11211.html | It may be helpful to include places like Astoria, Jackson Heights, Hoboken, Jersey City, Washington Heights, Berkeley, Oakland, South Bronx, etc. I see where you’re going with this – however – It’s difficult to compare cities and neighborhoods with gargantuan population differences (SF to Hamburg or a similar size euro city may be more realistic). This type of neighborhood comparison data could be helpful for contemporary relocation and real-estate development needs, if researched carefully… on a global business, arts scale?

  90. Folks above are right: when comparing cities, size matters, even after taking into account the semi-randomness of city limits viz-a-viz metro areas. I’d say NYC can really only be compared to London, otherwise it’s just ridiculous (FWIW, I’m a Brooklynite).

    The best comparison is San Francisco and Boston. They’re like mirror images of one another.

    Both San Francisco and Boston:
    –are located on peninsulas on the coasts
    –are preternaturally beautiful and filled with amazing nineteenth-century housing
    –are home to less than one million people in the middle of rather large metro areas
    –have idiosyncratic though decent public transportation systems (compared to the NYC subway, which is clearly better than any other system in the country, recent fare hikes notwithstanding)
    –are highly segregated, stratified and filled with outrageous inequality, despite their claims to diversity and liberalism
    –are controlled by one type of person (Boston frat boys; SF hippies), with an overlay of bourgie dominance

    That said, having just returned to BK from SF, some things struck me as odd about the city:
    –One would expect there to be way more universities in SF than there are
    –The micro-climates are totally, utterly wacky
    –This whole West Coast hippie vibe is so un-self-conscious, it’s hilarious. People strike yoga poses in parks! People walk around strumming guitars and singing folk songs! People actually wear tie-dyed shirts and aren’t afraid of being snarled at! It’s almost a different planet.
    –In SF, are jaywalking and littering punished by death?
    –Policing in SF is much, much more mellow than in NYC. If people in McCarren Park even came close to smoking as much weed and drinking as much booze as people do in Dolores Park, they’d have the crap beaten out of them by the NYPD.
    –Pound for pound, the Mission is probably cooler, less pretentious, less careerist, less self-obsessed than Williamsburg. But Williamsburg seems to have more bars.
    –Fixies in Brooklyn can be silly; in San Francisco, with all the hills, they’re insane.

  91. Whoever thinks you can’t get a good burrito in NYC hasn’t been to Washington Heights/Inwood…you know the neighborhoods at the very tip of Manhattan?? It’s still NYC up here too! Also, I hear that 116th on UWS is full of great authentic Mexican food.

    I agree with the person who said you can’t compare a neighborhood in San Fran to an entire borough in NYC like “queens” or “brooklyn.” There are so many different neighborhoods within each borough. But I like the overall idea of the San Fran/NYC neighborhood comparison! So carry on! 🙂

  92. Norman pretty much nailed it on all counts, especially the Red Sox Nation frat boys running Boston.

    I wouldn’t hate the NYPD as much though. Just spent a week in SF surprised st how few police I saw, then utterly unsurprised at the abundance of dangerous, confused people in the streets.

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  94. Ok, wow. Being that I’m an SF native (contemplating a move to NYC) and I’ve never been to NYC, my comment may be a tad bias. So, here we go…

    #1 I am a faithful MUNI rider and I am neither poor, creepy, old nor homeless. MANY people use MUNI to get to and from work. Its fucking PUBLIC transportation.

    #2 I usually hear people make LA/NYC comparisons more often than SF/NYC is bc LA aka La La Land is “fake” and “not as down-to-earth as Nor Cal”. So to say that NYC ppl are “more real” is a bogus ass statement. SF is leading when it comes to green initiatives and people are more into nature and their health. While the latter may sound a little misinformed (bc Ive never been to NYC), I’m going to just assume that the guy with the long-winded response abt why “SF is lame” just hates SF. SF isn’t for everyone.

    When I take my trip to NYC (next month), I’ll use this as a point of reference to see if the neighborhoods compare.

  95. I’m from Newark Nj, I also lived in New York City, Now I’m living in Fresno Ca, And Next year I’m moving to San Francisco… I WOULD NEVER LIVE IN LA LOL!

  96. I keep revisiting this, as someone who has lived in both places at least twice if not three times.

    People tend to forget that MANHATTAN is actually quite small in terms of RESIDENT population – only 1.5 million+ people live there. The parts that most people refer to – south of 125th – would be more comparable to San Francisco. People perceive Manhattan to be larger than it is because every day over 8 MILLION people commute into the midtown and downtown business districts from all over the metro area. San Francisco’s workday population merely doubles the city’s size and it’s concentrated in the Financial District and SoMa.

    Both Brooklyn and Queens dwarf Manhattan in terms of population. They each top out at over 2 million with Brooklyn being the largest of the two at 2.5 million. With that in mind, Brooklyn is more comparable to the entire urban East Bay shoreline before the tunnels vs. just Oakland.

  97. We’re looking to move to SF and were wondering what you would equate South Beach to. Is it less touristy out of baseball season?

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  99. Lenny: I’d say the closest comparison to South Beach (minus the ballpark, which is awesome if you’re a Giants fan) would be Battery Park City. Mostly new apartment complexes, pretty strips of green along the waterfront, proximity to the financial district and very little old culture from the more established neighborhoods further into their cities.

  100. Angie: with all due respect coming from another SF native that’s lived in NYC for five years now, you’re painting your impressions of NYC with a very broad and misinformed brush. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to make the move and learn for yourself, at which point I predict you’ll find the same in your over-defensiveness and generalized jabs at NYC posted above.

    While SF and NYC are obviously very different cities and can’t be compared directly, they have so much more in common than that suburb of a city called LA. You claim that NYC folks aren’t “real” because you’ve “heard more (retarded) people make NY/LA comparisons than NY/SF comparisons”… please.

    I love my hometown, SF, The City, more than most, and I hope to move back there some day. But NYC is just another amazing place that I hope you have the opportunity to experience yourself so you could stop making foolishly blind assumptions about on internet message boards.

  101. having lived all over the bay area (berkeley, redwood city, mtn view, fremont – with family and friends all over also) and in manhattan and now hoboken, this was sure fun to read

    Was struggling to visualize comps for hoboken, jersey city etc., so I love that some of you cracked it. jersey city = downtown, and hoboken = rockridge is perfect! (perhaps hoboken is on its way but not quite rockridge-cool yet) JC-downtown is perfect, the same soul-sapping emptiness.

  102. I’ve been living in NYC (W. Village) for the past 12 years and I’m moving to SF next year. I am looking for a neighborhood in SF that is equivalent to the w. village. I’m sorry to say though that the Castro is so NOT equal the w. village, it’s more like Chelsea.

    The main demographics in w. village are now young single professional, actors & artists, young families, very few older gay couples, lots of restaurants, bars, shopping.

    Can someone please help me? What does that equal to in SF?

    Btw, the comparison of Mission=Williamsburg is spot on!

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  104. Berkeley is more comparible to Long Island City much more than Richmond District…’Nuff said! Also I think East Harlem should be included with this but not sure what’s similar to it in the bay…maybe Castro district…in a way….

  105. Kk to break it down.
    The 5 boroughs of NY and the 5 Boroughs of Bay

    Manhattan-SF County

    Brooklyn-Alameda county

    Queens-contra costa county

    Staten Island-santa clara county/san mateo

    The Bronx-marin county…? More like Oakland lol

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  113. WOW! I don’t even know where to begin. I reckon I should start by saying that this was a very lovely attempt at comparing SF to NY neighborhoods in a general sense, some were close others are pretty off, but hey, that’s the nature of the beast, right?

    Now to all of you folks who chose to denigrate Los Angeles on this comment board… PLEASE STOP.

    Los Angeles and San Francisco cannot be compared because San Francisco, heck, even the entire SF Bay Area can’t hold a candle up to the AMAZINGNESS that is Los Angeles. Los Angeles is not a million suburbs trying to find a city, or one gigantic beast of a suburb, it is a living, breathing, utterly dynamic CITY! San Francisco is quite nice, I have deep affection for it, but the fact of the matter is that it is sooooooo tiny in soooooooo many ways. A conservative definition of Los Angeles (say LA county perhaps) yields a population that is roughly 9 to 11 million people compared to less than 1 million for SF, area-wise it is also WAY HUGER than SF! Way more densely populated, lots more neighborhoods, lots more to do, lots of reasons why SF can’t compete with it…

    Anyhow, before I get way off track, my aim is not to denigrate SF because it does have a lot to offer and is a pretty amazing little town… I just want to point out that Los Angeles is way cooler than people, especially closed – minded Northern Californians think it is…

    —BTW, in full disclosure, I am a Northern Californian who thinks the REAL California starts somewhere south of Santa Cruz on the coast and south of Bakersfield inland—

    Anyhow, I’m too sleepy to finish… will post again.

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  116. where’s bernal heights?! mix the mission, noe, potrero & dogpatch. would love to know where i should airbnb in new york next. 🙂 (i usually end up in park slope, fwiw….that’s where all my people are)

  117. I was in New York for 20 years.
    San Francisco for two.
    Returned to New York for one more… and will be back in SF soon, probably for keeps.

    I really enjoyed this article, and most of the replies. I was a bit embarrassed by my fellow New Yorkers slamming on SF, which is a different kind of jewel altogether.

    There’s a small area under the bridges between Peck Slip and the LES that I’d compare to Tenderloin, but even creepier because it’s so desolate. It might be gentrified by now, but I doubt it… My friend and I used to joke that no one should even fly over it, let alone walk around.

    Thanks for the read! Well done.

  118. i’m an la native and have been living in sf for two years..now that doesn’t make me an expert but it is enough time to get me irritated from all the negative & uninformed comments sf residents make about la…i’m hoping to move to nyc and i am fully prepared to get attacked about my home city there as well….only difference is: sf literally makes you soft and i feel that they’re aware of that so they try to attack la to help with their inferiority complex…whenever people mention the sprawl and the fake materialistic people they’re either an outsider or have only been to west l.a….la residents are hardworking and many of them rely on la’s burgeoning metro system…on the other hand i’ve realized that many of sf’s residents are pretentious and speak with snobby superiority especially to a mexican la native…
    …on the other hand i like oakland…i don’t see why people are so scared of it..not as bad as some of la’s upperlower class neighborhoods

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  120. Ruby said, “The main demographics in w. village are now young single professional, actors & artists, young families, very few older gay couples, lots of restaurants, bars, shopping.”

    The lots of restaurants, bars, etc part makes me think maybe the Mission or the Haight. The young urban professional (yuppie) part makes me think more gentrified. Maybe Cole valley or west of Valencia around Dolores Park. You like intolerable numbers of hipsters? The mission is for you. More into yuppie frat boys, some with young families and their sorority girl counterparts? Try Cow Hollow or the Marina. There is not a big struggling actor contingent anywhere in San Francisco, for that, NY or LA fits better.

    I used to care what New Yorkers thought of San Francisco, but then realized I didn’t care after I had one NY friend who lived here but was never satisfied with anything and talked up everything NY. His former house mate who was a drug dealer was better; the trash on the street was better; NY was the only “authentic” place (reminds me of middle America’s claim about itself). Lots of people everywhere are insecure and need to prove something about the city they live in so they can prove something about themselves.

    NY has a much bigger metro population than the bay area and Manhattan has a much bigger population than the city and county of San Francisco. I agree with the poster who pointed out that Boston is a much closer East Coast equivalent to San Francisco than New York is. I like all three cities for different reasons and they all have their problems, too.

  121. Shaking my head *sigh. okay another san franciscan comparing their city to a bigger, more popular one in hopes of acquiring SF!

    Why do you do this san francisco? I used to have so much respect for you when you were just cute, provincial and homely. When your claim to fame were the hippies and haight street summer of love.

    Now all this smugness and ego over the last 8 to 9 years really makes me wonder if this pretty, quaint little city is actually just as superficial as the the Los Angeles they made up (yes made up) in their minds to hate. Lately you’ve been in desperate need to be recognized. Now you insist on comparing yourself to NY and bash on LA. Maybe you’ve been doing this all along but you never made an effort to do it publicly til recently. It’s really just sad and encouraging my dwindling respect.

    It was better back then when you didn’t care about being noticed, when you criticized behind our backs (us new yorkers and angelenos), when you weren’t recognized for your restaurants. And I think that might be it. Once you were noticed for your food by Michelin you think we SHOULD notice everything else. tell you what! I, and most working people, can’t afford French Laundry at your pseudo-libertarian commerce. For the protesting and anti-commercial propaganda that SF has, it sure madly promotes very expensive food inaccessible to the majority of the middle class.

    So conclusively your people are painting a pretty picture for the world of how wonderful, progressive, and liberal your city is when all the supposedly great things in it are only accessible to those who have a salary of 75k and above.
    Sounds like a walking contradiction to me. And that’s why it only makes sense that there are so man hipsters in the gentrified Mission so they can feel urban validation when they get robbed for their new Leica and Vespa.

    Humble yourselves SF, please! San Jose and Oakland are riding your coattails too, you’re bringing down the entire morale of the bay area with that God forsaken ego – and no you don’t wanna be like us LA and NY folks now do you now?? SMH

  122. [EDIT] Shaking my head *sigh. okay another san franciscan comparing their city to a bigger, more popular one in hopes of validating* SF!

  123. Hello again!

    2.5 yrs later, I am still in NYC. I have a love-hate relationship with this place. More hate than love. Will relocate next year to either DC or Chicago. Will eventually settle back in SF, or the Bay at least.

    My sentiments haven’t exactly changed from two years ago. I rode MUNI when I was home this past Nov., and I will stand by the fact that MTA has more creepy ppl on it that MUNI has had collectively my entire live. Secondly, I also stand by my sentiments that SF is leading in green initiatives. Have you ppl not seen how disgustingly filthy the streets of NYC (all boroughs included) are? I still cringe at ppl throwing plastic bottles in the normal trash. I think Queens (the parts I have been to) is probably the cleanest of the boroughs.

    As for neighborhood comparisons, the majority of the list is pretty spot on. However, there are exceptions. It seems that the list is based off of the gentrified version of SF and not the SF I grew up in. First, the Western Addition used to be referred to as the Fillmore and was a lot more colorful than it is now, or was in ’07 when this list was made. That is accurate NOW, but growing up in the 90s, this was not the case. Hayes Valley/Chelsea?? LOL, more like Castro/Chelsea. I don’t agree with Union Sq/SoHo either. US in SF is more like a combination of NYC’s US and Times Square. US in SF is touristy with tons of shopping. SoHo is shopping and galleries. Despite the many corps in midtown, I’d say FiDi/Wall St. The Mission/Williamsburg? LOL, hardly. I live in Bushwick and between all the spanish discount stores and spanish food spots on Broadway, I think Misson/Bushwick is waaay more accurate. The Mission is also hella hipster and gentrified, just like Bushwick. Maybe Mission/East Williamsburg? The Sunset/ALL of Brooklyn?? That doesn’t even make sense lol. The sunset is 95% residential, quiet and mostly Asian. Brooklyn is the most diverse place on the entire planet. Brooklyn also has a number of neighborhoods with unique vibes and demographics. Lastly, the Richmond to ALL of Queens? Not even comparible. Maybe a few neighborhoods in Queens but definitely not all of the borough.

    Great idea though! 🙂

  124. Because OMG HOW THE HELL DID YOU KNOW I WAS MOVING TO NEW YORK?!?!

    Ahahaha seriously this article couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m leaving to New York on the 24th ^_^

  125. Yes, I agree that this list is very flawed. Brooklyn is too large and diverse to be lumped into equalling Sunset. I’ve lived in Williamaburg, Bushwick, and now Fort Greene – as well as visited SF several times. All 3 neighborhoods are very different. Although Williamsburg at first glance may seem sketchy and unrefined, some of the best restaurants, gourmet coffee shops, furniture and clothing stores are there, and are continuing to open there. As well as boutique hotels like the Wythe and chic bars with beer selections to satisfy any connoisseur.

    Yes, perhaps a trip to NYC is in order :). Brooklyn in itself can perhaps be compared to parts of SF…

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