Beating out popular arrondissements like The Mission and North Beach, the Lower Haight nabbed Curbed's tight 2011 San Francisco Neighborhood of the Year battle. And we can see why: Lower Haight retains its grittiness (visible section 8 housing!) and diversity (black and white people living together in not-perfect harmony!) while keeping its cool with a slew of fine (and not so fine) dining and retail establishments without turning into a boutique strip (see: Hayes or Valencia Streets). It's a great place to visit or live, even if it is on a hill.

Curbed tells it like it is:

What a year the Lower Haight had in 2011! An amazing public mural was vandalized beyond recognition and a fire hit the center of the neighborhood at Haight and Fillmore. True to form, Lower Haighters have met these setbacks with a neighborhood spirit: getting together to clean up the mural and hosting fundraiser after fundraiser for victims of the fire.

Lower Haight beset Russian Hill with 68.9% of the vote. If you would like to know more about the part of Haight Street that doesn't involve incense, dirt bags, or hippie aesthetics (that's te Upper Haight, for those of you not in the know), please check out Andrew Dudley's super fine Haighteration posthaste, a site that bills itself as "the world's freshest Lower Haight blog, bringing you news and stories from san francisco's hippest neighborhood that isn't The Mission."

Read all about the 2011 S.F. hood competition at Curbed.