Signs found in San Francisco, California, point in the direction of ethnic neighborhoods in the city: Chinatown, North Beach (an Italian-American neighborhood) and Fisherman's Wharf, traditional site of travel and trade. In 1848, San Francisco was a town of 1,000 people, mostly Mexican American and white merchants. By 1849, the first year of the California Gold Rush, the city boomed to 25,000 people from the eastern United States, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.

Photograph by Laura Sheahen, MyShot
  • Like many urban areas, the city of San Francisco, California, is made up of distinct neighborhoods. Three of them (Chinatown, North Beach, and Fisherman's Wharf) are close enough to share room on this street sign. These neighborhoods share space in the northeastern, or "bay" side of the San Francisco peninsula.

    San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest "Chinatown" in North America. North Beach was the traditional neighborhood of Italian immigrants—"Little Italy." Fisherman's Wharf is home to the city's fishing fleet.

    All three neighborhoods are major tourist destinations in San Francisco.


    • San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest Chinese community outside Asia.
    • The earliest Chinese immigrants to settle in the area arrived in 1848 from Guangdong Province.


    • North Beach is not a beach! The area was on the coast of the San Francisco Bay until the 19th century, when massive landfills added acres to the shoreline.
    • Italian immigrants settled in the area following San Francisco's 1906 earthquake. These immigrants came mostly as construction workers to help rebuild the city.


    • The original fishermen of Fisherman's Wharf were immigrants (mostly Italian) who established ocean and bay fisheries during the California Gold Rush.
    • One of the oldest, most profitable, and sustainable fisheries of Fisherman's Wharf is Dungeness crab. As seen in this sign, the crab has become a symbol of the entire neighborhood.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    bay Noun

    body of water partially surrounded by land, usually with a wide mouth to a larger body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bay
    beach Noun

    narrow strip of land that lies along a body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: beach
    California Gold Rush Noun

    (1848-1855) worldwide immigration to California following the discovery of gold.

    city Noun

    large settlement with a high population density.

    coast Noun

    edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: coast
    earthquake Noun

    the sudden shaking of Earth's crust caused by the release of energy along fault lines or from volcanic activity.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    fishery Noun

    industry or occupation of harvesting fish, either in the wild or through aquaculture.

    immigrant Noun

    person who moves to a new country or region.

    landfill Noun

    site where garbage is layered with dirt and other absorbing material to prevent contamination of the surrounding land or water.

    neighborhood Noun

    an area within a larger city or town where people live and interact with one another.

    Encyclopedic Entry: neighborhood
    ocean Noun

    large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ocean
    peninsula Noun

    piece of land jutting into a body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: peninsula
    sustainable Adjective

    able to be continued at the same rate for a long period of time.

    symbol Noun

    something used to represent something else.

    tourist Noun

    person who travels for pleasure.

    urban area Noun

    developed, densely populated area where most inhabitants have nonagricultural jobs.

    Encyclopedic Entry: urban area
    wharf Noun

    structure built above or alongside a body of water, usually so boats can dock.