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San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighbourhood got its name from the packs of canines that once roamed its streets, scavenging scraps from the thriving meatpacking factories. With the decline of industry after World War II, Dogpatch, located on the eastern waterfront near Pier 70, fell into disrepair.

In the 1970s, however, the quarter started to attract San Francisco’s hippies and artists. Only in the past several years, though, has the area seen a real boom: enterprising residents and businesses have started flooding in, hungry for the neighbourhood’s new (and more appealing) scraps: empty buildings, cheap rent and historical appeal.

Now, Dogpatch is, without a doubt, the hottest neighbourhood in San Francisco – and while the four-legged name has stuck, it is known more for its trendy new bars, restaurants, and galleries than any stray dogs. But even as Dogpatch booms, devotees say the district still feels like a small town within the city.

“It’s hip without being hipster,” said Jeff Lyon, co-owner and operator of the neighbourhood’s newest cocktail bar, the Third Rail. “But what I like best is the strong sense of community. During our build out, so many neighbours stopped by just to say hi and welcome us. Now I can’t wait to serve them all a drink.”

Hemmed between Mariposa Street, 23rd Street, Highway 280 and Pier 70, the nine square blocks of Dogpatch make up one of the few areas of the city that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. A walkabout reveals some of San Francisco’s oldest dwellings, many of them cottages built by workers in the meatpacking and shipbuilding industries in the late 1860s. At 909 Tennessee Street stands one of the city’s oldest fire stations, built in 1925. Just up the road at 106 is San Francisco’s oldest existing public school, Irving M Scott School, built in 1895 and named for the head of the nearby Union Iron Works shipyard.

Abandoned warehouses and empty docks remain, too, reminders of San Francisco’s shipbuilding glory days. During World War II, the Bay area was home to more than 30 shipyards, machine shops and factories. When the war ended, the industries declined, factories shut and residents moved away. But by the 1970s, with San Francisco’s space at a premium and rents on the rise, Dogpatch was back on the radar, this time for artistic and creative types. Companies like San Francisco’s Esprit Corporation swooped in to purchase and spruce up the district’s historic houses and large industrial buildings.

Dogpatch has been on the rise ever since. Starting in the mid-1990s, residential and commercial development boomed, followed by major construction projects such as the nearby AT&T Park and the UCSF Research Center. A new light rail began charging down the centre of 3rd Street in January 2007, connecting Dogpatch to downtown San Francisco.

Dozens of independent shops, restaurants, bars and galleries have followed. The Museum of Craft and Design decamped from its downtown location to Dogpatch in April 2013; now in a sprawling building that once housed sewing factories and warehouses, it has more space to show its collections of furniture, sculpture and woodwork. Italian restaurant Piccino, which first opened in Dogpatch in 2006, still packs in crowds at its new location, a bright yellow house on the corner of 22nd and Missouri Streets. Since 2008, workshop Rickshaw Bagworks has enjoyed a cult-like following of local cyclists and professionals who snatch up made-to-order messenger bags. Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous (699 22nd Street, 415-970-0750), opened in 2010, lures sweet tooths with homemade ice-cream in flavours like its signature Ballpark, a mix of roasted peanuts, chocolate-covered pretzels and locally-brewed beer, Anchor Steam. Dogpatch WineWorks, a wine collective and bar, opened in 2011 in a former canning factory, while the neighbourhood also welcomed a French cheese shop, La Fromagerie, and a butcher, Olivier’s Butchery, at the end of 2012.

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