When I moved to San Francisco, the Castro was the first place I called home. I didn’t know that my ‘hood went by other names, so you can imagine my surprise when I looked at the San Francisco MLS map and discovered that the Castro wasn’t called the Castro but was instead Eureka Valley. Was it named Eureka Valley from the ancient greek meaning to discover? As in “Eureka, I have found the gays and this is where they congregate” Or was their some other only-the-natives-know-the-answer reason for the dueling neighborhood names? Was it some type of lingering homophobia, an alternate name put forward by people who wanted to “save” the neighborhood from the gay influx?
Tracking down the answer to this neighborhood naming mystery took a little time. Finding how Noe got it name is easy by comparison. And once you know how Noe got it’s name, you also discover the origins for the names of the following streets: Castro Street, Noe Street, Sanchez Street, Guerrero Street and Valenica Street. All were named for prominent Mexican ranchers: General Jose Castro, Jose de Jesus Noe, Jose Antonio Sanchez, Don Francisco Guerrero and Jose Manuel Valencia (or his son Candelario). But still, why Eureka Valley?
Eureka Valley, it turns out, is named for one of the Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks, a San Francisco landmark that provides spectacular city views (when not fogged in), consists of (you guessed it) two peaks. The north peak is named Eureka peak, and the south peak is named Noe peak. Eureka Valley is the valley below Eureka Peak, and that, my dear readers is the anti-climatic ending to the story of the dueling-neighborhood-name mystery.
But as with all questions, the answer to one question inevitably just creates a new question: why is Eureka peak named Eureka peak? I have no idea.