Exploring San Francisco through the lens of city blocks, Blocker is a weekly series by Charles Hodgkins. Look for it on SFist each Wednesday, around the lunching hour.
View the map of all published Blocker episodes.
Blocker, No. 22: La Playa St. in the Outer Sunset
Among San Francisco’s myriad neighborhoods, few are as widely misunderstood as the Outer Sunset. Location certainly plays a role. To your average Upper Haight resident – to say nothing of your average South of Market or North Beach resident – this beach-adjacent community may seem as distant as Honolulu, with an N-Judah trip that may rival a flight to Oahu in terms of travel time. But it’s sometimes easy to forget that San Francisco is a mere seven miles wide, and that the folks out west do have phone numbers that begin with 415, rather than 808.
La Playa St., which borders the Sunset on its seaward side, takes a cue from Arguello Blvd. and Funston Ave. in the way it stunt-doubles for a numerically named street. In La Playa’s curious case, it stands in for 49th Avenue, a street name you’d think would warrant some serious respect in San Francisco. But this block of pavement between Irving and Judah at the edge of the North American continent could be called “Canadian Midwest Boulevard of Dreams,” and it would still convey the Outer Sunset’s singular blend of surfer, urban, Asian-American family, and hipster cultures.