Downtown San Francisco (call it what you will)
From a reader’s comment (and query) regarding The Millennium:

“Wow, I like the [Millennium] midrise. I wouldn’t mind the location since its in the heart of FIDI . . . .”

Not wanting to argue, but is 1st & Mission now considered to be “in the heart of” the Financial District? I remember when it wasn’t. And, now that “FIDI” seems to be the accepted nickname for that part of town, would someone tell me whether it’s pronounced “Fie, die” or “Fiddy?” I hope the answer isn’t “eff-eye-dee-eye.” Thanks.

Well…while many might consider the area an extension of FiDi (as in “Financial District”), the City powers that be have been pushing for the adoption of “Transbay” (not to be confused with TransBay). And yet others simply refer to it as SoMa.
As far as we’re concerned, we’ll let the plugged-in people lobby and decide (or even suggest others). So have at it. Bonus points for defining both the boundaries and pronunciation (and double bonus points for maps/mashups/multi-media). And if no clear winner emerges, perhaps we’ll even host a good old fashioned poll.
The Millennium: A Few Things You Might Know (And A Few You Don’t) [SocketSite]

52 thoughts on “Neighborhood Identity Crisis Alert: Is It FiDi? Transbay? SoMa?”
  1. Technically speaking it’s not even close to being FIDI. I work in a building on the corner of Market and 2nd and even that isn’t really FIDI. The FIDI, to be hyper-technical (at least from a historical perspective), really starts on the north side of Market.
    The most you could say is that the Millennium is located in downtown SF, but to narrow it down to a discrete neighborhood within the downtown area (e.g., Rincon Hill (which is clearly is not), Barbary Coast, SOMA, South Beach), your guess is as good as mine.
    Even referring to it as being located in the “Transbay” area is somewhat of a misnomer because that’s just a reference to the area represented by the redevelopment zone, it’s not a neighborhood per se.
    This is actually tough one, but it makes sense given that in recent history, this was not a residential area so there was no need to come up with a neighborhood handle.

  2. Everyone who works down here calls it either the financial district or downtown — but “downtown” is also used for the Union Square shopping area.
    It’s fair to call First and Mission part of the financial district, but calling it “the heart” is really stretching it. “At the edge” is more like it.

  3. I agree with Yahoo maps on the boundaries of FiDi (as well as South Beach), which agrees with RinconHill_Res.
    Yahoo just seems to have made up its own names for the swath of SoMa between the two, though, all of which seem pretty arbitrary.
    I’d place Barbary Coast from Jackson Square north past Telegraph Hill.
    For South of Market, East of 1st, I suggest “Landfill.”

  4. Someone getting lost? City SO huge can’t find way w/out Candyland cuteness? First and Mission is First and Mission — it needs no marketing acronym (except in transient real estate pages). The rush to name every sub sub sub neighborhood takes the pleasure out of urban discovery. Since when is a street name not enough? Neighborhood acronym monikers — tiring and silly. It’s all about $. In case you haven’t noticed the 8th street SOMA sign sponsored by Oracle — next up “FIDI sponsored by Gap”? Just say no.

  5. Yeah, what is up with that oracle sign?
    But I wouldn’t expect to see a “sponsored by Gap” sign downtown — I’d wait for it to pop up in the Presidio near Fisher’s museum.
    And the Millenium is in SoMa. Or the South Financial District.

  6. The Millenium is located “downtown” or in the “Financial District.” The Union Square shopping district may also be referred to as being “downtown” but most natives refer to the area as “Union Square.” And I apologize for the excessive use of quotes.

  7. Union Square is Union Square. Shock!
    First and Mission is quintessentially South of Market– one of those addresses where the orientation to Market makes sense. Until recently, Market St. has always been the bright line border of the Financial District.
    And please, it’s ‘South of Market’ not ‘SoMa’ as SoMany transplants would like to Manhattanize our local lingo. On the same line, ‘FiDi’ is 57 varieties of wrong.

  8. The millenium is in the financial district, the financial district being bordered by Clay to the north, Kearney/New Montgomery to the west, the bay to the east and Howard to the south. Anything south of Market and west of New Montgomery is SOMA, East of New Montgomery and south of Howard is Rincon Hill. South of the bridge is South Beach.

  9. “But who knows as neigbhorhoods evolve…The map doesn’t identify Rincon Hill for instance…”
    I find this fact to be most curious because Rincon Hill has been recognized as a discrete residential neighborhood since before the turn of the century, but only recently has the “cache” (for lack of a better term) associated with referring to the area as “Rincon Hill” resurfaced (most likely spurred by the recent residential development).
    When I moved to the area in early 2004, people actually referred to it as SOMA, which in 2005 switched to South Beach, and then most recently, maybe as recently as early to mid 2006, Rincon Hill.
    And I’m sorry, 301 Mission is not FIDI, no way, no how. On the outskirts of FIDI, ok, fine, but that about it.
    The “Transbay” area sounds awful. For multiple reasons, but principally, because it makes me think of disgusting wooden benches, urine, feces, power washing and stepping over bodies. Not exactly “uber luxury” if you know what I mean.
    I think East SOMA works fine. Sure, it’s not the name of a discrete neighborhood, but neither FIDI nor downtown sound good either.

  10. But “SOMA” still makes me cringe only 1/10 as much as when I hear “NOPA.”
    Even in Manhattan, Tribeca is about the only one of these cutesy, marketing, neighborhood name contractions that really gets used. Others are mostly laughed at the way people are laughing at FIDI here.

  11. Can’t really argue with the above…all of the vowel ending shorthand names are certainly cringe-worthy (which includes the now fairly well established SoMa).
    How about this? “Where do you live? In a condo in the the Millennium Tower building. Oh really? Where is that? It’s in that area near the Ferry Building known as ‘FeBu.'”
    Someone just come up with a stock ticker symbol and we’ll go with that.

  12. SOMA has been dividing into more defined neighborhood for several years now.
    I suspect it’s on the border of the Financial District and Rincon Hill per this map (which is in-line with planning dept:)
    However, when Transbay actually becomes a neighborhood (10 years?), perhaps that will spin off from Rincon Hill, and the Millennium would adopt that or perhaps SOFIDI becomes the lingo.

  13. “Even in Manhattan, Tribeca is about the only one of these cutesy, marketing, neighborhood name contractions that really gets used. Others are mostly laughed at the way people are laughing at FIDI here.”
    Actually, some of my friends use DUMBO (that’s where they go for steak).

  14. “However, when Transbay actually becomes a neighborhood”
    -when and WHY should the transbay EVER become a “neighborhood”!!!??? It’s a f**king BUILDING, people! That doesn’t create a neighborhood, it means that there is just another building in SF. Are we in SF so shocked and awed by every new development that we need to throw a block-party?
    -Come to think of it, maybe we should be awed. Maybe we should all fill the streets around the Millennium or Transbay Term and stare at the incredibly ugly mess we built and then bow at the feet of those people dumb enough to spend the exorbitant prices to live there. It could be a big “dumb-parade” celebrating how well the RE/mortgage sector screwed us all.

  15. SoMa. South of Market. NOT FiDi. Possibly “downtown”, but downtown includes Union Square + FiDi + some parts of SoMA (aka mission street, depending on the cross street.)
    end of discussion.
    –a resident of SoMa (and yes, we do use that expression, it’s easier)

  16. “a resident of SoMa (and yes, we do use that expression, it’s easier)”
    Melinda also probably says she lives in Frisco.

  17. “-when and WHY should the transbay EVER become a “neighborhood”!!!??? ”
    I agree with RG on this. Why do some people try so hard to convince others that where they are buying is really going to be a “neighborhood”? You might call it a district, but if you are choosing SOMA , Transbay or Rincon Hill, you are not choosing a neighborhood lifestyle. Noe Valley, Cow Hollow, even the hated (jealous?) Marina are real neighborhoods that don’t need a 60 story glass building with windows that won’t open beyond 6″ to proclaim their identity.

  18. As for New York, they’ve gone acronym crazy too. I REFUSE to use the term DUMBO. Does anyone know what that actually stands for?!? “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass(es)” Ridiculous, I tell you!!!
    Imagine if we did that in San Francisco for Rincon Hill/ Transbay Terminal Area. “Slightly North of the Bay Bridge Approach” – SNOBBA! Perfect!

  19. Of course it’s “SoMa” in both name and pronunciation. It’s a useful contraction, whereas “NOPA” is a euphemism intended to create a neighborhood where there is none. Though I do like the idea of naming a chunk of the city after a restaurant.
    And it has nothing to do with NYC. Though New Yorkers ALL use “Tribeca”, “Nolita”, “SOHO”, “NOHO, “DUMBO” and some even use “MePa”.
    I do notice that [many in the Marina] are fond of referring to San Francisco as “The City”. Which is laughable. I much prefer Frisco.

  20. I write SOMA or SoMa (SOMA is easier to type), but I say “South of Market.”
    And I sometimes use “the City” or “the city” to refer to SF– this is an old usage, from when SF was the city, and the Peninsula and San Jose were fruit orchards.

  21. My favorite is when I was at a party in Los Angeles with a fellow S.F. business associate and she introduced herself to our Hombly Hills host as being from “the city”. He responded, “New York”? When she responded with provincial pride “Why San Francisco, of course!”, he was quite perplexed.

  22. Geez, I got to New York for a long weekend, and people are trying to rename parts of RINCON HILL on me. 🙂
    I consider Rincon Hill to be bound by 2nd (though it was originally out to 3rd, but Al Gore living at St. Regis deserves his own hood), Mission, The Embarcadero, and Bryant Streets. That’s what I posted as the bounds on my blog back in February, and I’m sticking with it.
    SPUR has some interesting background on Rincon Hill:
    Residents of Millennium should join me and others in the Rincon Hill crew….. DiFi, FiDi, whatever… that doesn’t sound residential…. and I can’t believe SoMa extends this far east in peoples’ minds. Its Rincon Hill… we have our own zip code for crying out loud… 94105.

  23. Jamie: you said “and I can’t believe SoMa extends this far east in peoples’ minds”
    SoMa means: South of Market. Anything South of Market is technically “SOMA.” It’s in the name!

  24. Castro is technically south of market, but, um, yeah….
    My point is that the area around Rincon Hill was known as Rincon Hill starting in the 1850s when the wealthiest of folks set up shop there … 1906 burnt it all down and the Bay Bridge killed off any glimmer of it becoming a residential area again for decades thanks to its proximity to the water front and the desires of corporations to buy big parcels of land for building warehouses.
    At any rate …. future residents who live in developments that sprout from the new Transbay Transit Center can tout they live in Rincon Hill as far as I’m concerned.

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