If you were to look up “community” in the dictionary you’d find North Beach under the examples.
I’ve never really taken the time to analyze a neighborhood the way I have with North Beach but what I’ve learned from these past four months is that it’s what every neighborhood should be like. Events that cater not only to the needs of its residents but also the general public that’s not in an in-your-face kind of way. If you hear or come across something online about something cool happening in the area – go. And there’s always something to do, whether it’s in Washington Square Park, City Lights Bookstore or one of the many art galleries the neighborhood offers. There’s always something to do even when it seems like there’s nothing to do. It’s a part of the city that you’d think would be heavily populated by tourists but in reality is not.
I think it’s awesome that the residents put together events for the whole family like the Columbus Day Bazaar. It was open to the public but it felt like everyone knew each other even if they didn’t. I also loved all the little events that happened in Jack Kerouac Alley such as the Fair To Remember. I am continually impressed by the local arts and crafts the city has to offer and having it showcased in such an area really brings the culture together.
Mark your calendars to go to North Beach on the first friday of every month to get your dose of culture around the city through the different works of art being shown in the different galleries around the neighborhood and mingle with the artists and residents.
Even if I wasn’t doing anything in particular, there was a sort of comfort in just walking around. I could walk around the neighborhood in circles and chill in Washington Square Park just taking in everything happening around me or pop in the City Lights Bookstore to kill some time and do some reading inside where you won’t get called out by the employees for doing so.
There wasn’t a trip I made out there without sitting in Saints Peter and Paul Church for a few minutes of peace and quiet. I’m not a fan of silence or particularly religious but there was always a calmness that overcame me whenever I went. And every time I walked into the church there was an elderly man who sat in the last row to the left of the entrance in the dark because they usually kept the lights dim inside. I didn’t think he was with the church but I never mustered up the courage to get his story. So if anyone knows who I’m talking about, please let me know!
Ah yes, and there’s also that sweet smell from Z. Cioccolato that pulls you in and follows you back down Columbus Avenue.
Even though my work for the semester is done and I don’t live in the city, I’ll definitely be back walking up and down Columbus Avenue. I look forward to seeing the new North Beach Library set to open during Spring next year.
Thank you to all the residents, merchants and everyone involved in the community for showing me more of what San Francisco has to offer.