Jackson Square encompasses the northeastern part of the former (and notorious) Barbary Coast. Jackson Square Historic District retains its character as one of the oldest commercial neighborhoods in San Francisco. Though in some cases extensively altered duringseismic retrofit, the collection of three-story brick buildings found on the narrow streets and alleys offer a bright glimpse into the California Gold Rush that gave San Francisco its start.
Walking tours regularly assemble for the sights and recounting of history, even as the neighborhood changes with dramatic new development and commercial instability fueled by high rents. With few vacancies, there is plenty of evidence of neighborhood vitality. This is the interior designer's district (predating the San Francisco Design Center), where the well-heeled order elegant furnishings, wall coverings, carpets, prints and the like most often only through the trade, and occasionally at retail. With twenty-five furniture and decorative art galleries, advertising agencies, architects and industrial or graphic designers still survive in the neighborhood, and law firms have offices in many of the prime locations.
Watering holes and restaurants and clubs dot the streets and alleyways, and many of these are historic institutions in themselves. Recently, there has been a resurgence of these businesses, opening up to breathe new life in to the area.