Travel & Day Trips

What is South of Market (SoMA) in San Francisco? Key Things to Know

South of Market, commonly known as SoMa, is a vibrant neighborhood in San Francisco, California, known for its eclectic mix of history, art, technology, and nightlife. Over the years, SoMa has transformed from an industrial hub to a cornerstone of the city’s tech and cultural scenes.

Historical Background

  • Industrial Beginnings: During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, SoMa was predominantly an industrial area with factories, warehouses, and docks.
  • Earthquake of 1906: The devastating earthquake and subsequent fire of 1906 destroyed a significant portion of the neighborhood.
  • Transformation in the Late 20th Century: From the 1980s onward, SoMa began to transform, seeing a rise in residential and office developments.

Main Attractions in SoMa

Sign for SoMA
Sign for SoMA
  • Museums:
    • Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
    • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
    • The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)
  • Parks & Recreation:
    • Yerba Buena Gardens: A peaceful oasis with public art, water features, and entertainment venues.
    • South Park: A small, renovated park popular among local tech workers.
  • Nightlife:
    • Numerous bars, clubs, and music venues, making it a nightlife hotspot in San Francisco.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art sign
Bright red sign for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) in the South of Market or SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, California, August 2, 2018.

The Tech Influence

Tech startups in SoMA

With the rise of Silicon Valley and the technology boom of the late 1990s and 2000s, SoMa became a prime location for many tech startups and established giants:

TwitterThe micro-blogging giant’s headquarters are in SoMa.
UberStarted its journey from this very neighborhood.
AirbnbAnother tech giant that calls SoMa its home.
ZyngaThe gaming company’s HQ can be found in the heart of SoMa.

Living in SoMa

  • Housing: A mix of modern condos, converted lofts, and new apartment complexes.
  • Transportation:
    • Easily accessible by public transportation, including BART and Muni.
    • A hub for shared mobility with bike lanes, scooter sharing, and more.
  • Dining: From upscale restaurants to cozy caf├ęs, SoMa offers a wide range of dining options.


SoMa represents the quintessential blend of San Francisco’s history and its ever-evolving future. From the vestiges of its industrial past to the high-tech offices of today, the neighborhood stands as a testament to the city’s resilience and adaptability. Whether you’re a history buff, tech enthusiast, or just looking for a great place to dine and unwind, SoMa has something to offer for everyone.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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