Neighborhood boundaries are ambiguous, even to those who identify as belonging to a particular neighborhood. Some respondents referred to where their neighborhood boundaries “technically” were, implicitly according authority to institutionalized neighborhood maps while also undercutting this authority as “technically” true but not practically true.

“It's one of those interesting things, unless you live directly on Haight Street, depending on the apartments available, you'll have one apartment in this neighborhood that will have different Craigslist postings calling it five different neighborhoods because they're trying to appeal to different demographics of people.”

Using shapefile data created by Bernt Wahl and his neighborhood mapping project, Zillow, the San Francisco Planning Department and the San Francisco Association of Realtors, Sketching Neighborhoods was produced by simply mapping these datasets on top of each other. Some boundaries are reinforced multiple times, while others are less certain, giving the overall map a surprisingly human, sketch-like quality considering its source. Even without knowing which lines belong to which datasets, the map is compelling to look at.

Everyone agrees that San Francisco is a city of distinctive neighborhoods, but it may be harder to decide how many or which neighborhoods make up the city. In 150 Neighborhoods of San Francisco, the overlap between neighborhood names from seven different groups is examined. The Mission-based blog Burrito Justice has produced a map called the Islands of San Francisco, which underwent a number of revisions based on feedback from commenters. The real estate website Zillow not only classifies its properties into neighborhoods but it has released shapefiles for this data as well. UC Berkeley Fellow Bernt Wahl has developed his own San Francisco neighborhoods dataset, based on demographic data. Wikipedia maintains a page for the neighborhoods of San Francisco, listing over 100 distinct areas. Craigslist has broken the city down into neighborhoods for both its real estate and personals sections. The San Francisco Planning Department maintains a list of neighborhoods and shapefiles. Finally, the San Francisco Association of Realtors has its own official neighborhood map, with revisions being published every few years.

Wikipedia is an interesting resource, as its crowdsourced nature makes it seem connected to local knowledge yet it’s still often referenced as an “official” source. Its Neighborhoods in San Francisco page is an intriguing case study in how people see and want to present the city to the world at large. The History of Wikipedia's Neighborhoods in San Francisco Page tracks the neighborhoods listed on the page, starting with 42 when the page was first created in Feburary 2005, to more than 100 presently. The page was also home to the mysterious neighborhoods of Snuggleton and Safeway Heights.

Sketching Boundaries

Sketching Boundaries (colored)

150 Neighborhoods of San Francisco (names)

150 Neighborhoods of San Francisco (matrix)

The History of Wikipedia's Neighborhoods in San Francisco Page