Crime, Counter Culture & Spaghetti: The Evolution of Little Italy & North Beach

San Francisco, CA

  • North Beach will filled with bakeries like this one. Photo: SF Public Library.
  • Jalapeno cheese focaccia from Liguria Bakery. Photo: Vicente / Vittle Monster.
  • The facade outside of the Liguria Bakery.
  • The double towers of the Saints Peter and Paul Church.
  • The exterior of Caffe Trieste.
  • Pictures on the wall of the Caffe Trieste.
  • "Language of the Birds" in the early evening.
  • A "Defenestration" building in SOMA.
  • Signage outside of the Condor Club.
  • 1970s advertisement for The Condor.
  • The Poet's Chair.
  • The Taniperla Mural in Jack Kerouac Alley.
  • A look down the alley.
  • The crass logo for Vesuvio.
  • The scene at Vesuvio.
  • The Sentinel Building with the Transamerica Pyramid in the background.
  • The Caesar Salad at Cafe Zoetrope.

2 hours and 30 minutes
0.6 mi
Guided by Jason
Jason Donahue


Explore how North Beach evolved through a colorful series of chronological reimaginings. Originally the red light district for Gold Rush-fevered Forty-Niners, the neighborhood burned down after the 1906 earthquake and resurrected as Little Italy, giving rise to mafia-inspired literature. Decades later, North Beach became the epicenter of both the anti-establishment Beatniks and the first topless bars in America. This is the definitive exploration of one of San Francisco's most story-worthy neighborhoods.

About Your Guide

I am all about exploring local history, architecture, food and art to learn about how places came to be. You can find me in search of hidden places, tasty dim sum, high-design speakeasies, skyline vistas and other ingredients to build the perfect day.

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Guide Points

  1. Liguria Bakery

    Back in the 1850s, the area we will explore today was known as the Barbary Coast - an enclave of vice, debauchery, profanity and cutthroats…

  2. Saints Peter and Paul Church

    Over 150 years ago, you would be standing not too far from San Francisco harbor's northeastern shoreline.

  3. Caffe Trieste

    Caffe Trieste is dripping with character. Note the exterior and then head inside to find hand painted murals on the walls, stained glass wi…

  4. "Language of the Birds"

    At the corner of Broadway and Columbus on the western side of the street, you'll spot what looks to be a flock of 23 books flying in the ai…

  5. The Condor Club

    Despite the destruction of the Barbary Coast, some things never change. These couple blocks of Broadway are chock full of strip clubs - the…

  6. City Lights Bookstore

    Established in 1953, City Lights is the first bookstore in the US to sell only paperback books. A gutsy move at the time, it would be the f…

  7. Jack Kerouac Alley

    A 2007 addition to the North Beach neighborhood, Jack Kerouac Alley celebrates the Beat Generation novelist who spent so much of his time a…

  8. Vesuvio Cafe

    Vesuvio was a regular stomping ground for Beat poets in San Francisco, and it is easy to see why. The decor is cheeky, apathetic, crass and…

  9. The Sentinel Building

    Completed the year after the 1906 earthquake, the Beaux-Arts style Sentinel Building / Columbus Tower / Zoetrope Building features copper t…

Sidewalk Reviews

  1. 3 Reviews

    1. Anonymous

    Jan 13, 2019

    1. Tom Jonze

    The app is the only negative. It makes you restart when you stop to take photos or other uses of your phone. It’s not long but restarting from the beginning every time is annoying.

    Sep 3, 2018

About Sidewalk

Sidewalk is an app that provides free, guided walk experiences that can be created by anyone with stories to share about places they know and love.

The app navigates people through a neighborhood walk using GPS turn-by-turn directions, rich imagery and storytelling.