San Francisco's Most Cosmopolitan Neighborhood?

Unfinished History


Moscow and France Streets in the Excelsior

Photo: David Green


Russia Avenue north at Paris Street, 1927, car wreck at left.

Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

The City's most cosmopolitan neighborhood—at least in terms of its street signs—is the Excelsior! In just a few blocks you can experience Paris, London, Moscow, Naples, Madrid, Lisbon, Vienna, Edinburgh, Prague, Dublin, and Munich, not to mention France, Persia, Russia, and Brazil. And in the early 21st century its population increasingly matches the diversity of the locations its streets herald. But only a few decades ago, this was one of the most segregated parts of San Francisco and it is the neighborhood that sent Dan White to the Board of Supervisors after the first district elections in 1976.

Dan White, the Supervisor who killed fellow Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone at City Hall on November 27th, 1978, has become the City of Tolerance's symbol of intolerance—of narrow-minded, parochial bigotry that can explode into violence.

After he was released from prison on January 6, 1984, White wound up asphyxiating himself here by running a car in his tightly-closed garage. Though he was mourned by most San Francisco police, who had wildly cheered the assassination of their own mayor, the City as a whole was not exactly grief-stricken at White's demise.

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Peru and Athens Streets

Photo: Chris Carlsson

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