Photo by Mark Dalmulder, via Flickr

[Editor’s Note: This guest post by tech writer and editor Matt Rosoff originally appeared on his personal blog.]

So you’re moving from San Francisco to Seattle? Or from Seattle to San Francisco?

I’ve done both, and the two cities have a lot in common. San Francisco is bigger, more expensive, more socioeconomically stratified, more ethnically diverse, and a lot sunnier except during the summer, when it’s miserably cold.  But even with these differences, there are lots of similarities, like booming high tech companies and startups, beautiful waterfront, glorious nearby nature, long lines for brunch, the frequent smell of marijuana, fancy beer, a serious homeless problem, and great young NFL teams.

These analogies aren’t perfect, but I hope they help you figure out where you might want to live, visit, and avoid. I’ll leave it to the designers to create the actual physical maps.


The Financial District :: Downtown

Civic Center :: South Downtown

SOMA :: SoDo

The Mission :: Ballard

Dolores Park :: Green Lake

The Castro :: Capitol Hill

Upper Haight :: University Way (“The Ave”)

Lower Haight/Hayes Valley :: The CD

Seattle Skyline Super Moon
Photo by Kevin Lisota

Fillmore :: Wallingford

Noe Valley :: Ravenna

Pacific Heights :: North Capitol Hill

The Marina :: Madison Park

Seacliff :: Broadmoor

Chinatown :: The International District

North Beach :: Pike Place

Embarcadero :: Seattle Center

Pioneer Square :: Pier 39

Potrero :: Queen Anne

Dogpatch :: Georgetown

Glen Park :: Phinney

Bernal :: Madrona

Excelsior :: Beacon Hill

St. Francis Wood :: Windermere

Forest Hill :: Laurelhurst

The Richmond :: Magnolia

The Presidio :: Discovery Park

The Sunset :: North Seattle

19th :: Aurora

Oakland :: Tacoma

Walnut Creek :: Bellevue

Palo Alto :: Mercer Island

Berkeley :: Olympia

Complaining about hipsters :: Complaining about the weather

Your startup getting written up in TechCrunch :: Your band getting played on KEXP

Produce :: Seafood

MUNI delays :: I-5 traffic

Fog :: Rain

Point Reyes :: The San Juans

The Redwoods :: The Olympics

Yosemite :: Mt. Rainier

There are a couple places that are vital to each city but don’t have very good analogs. West Seattle is seen as the “old” Seattle, the way Seattle used to be, physically removed from the rest of the city and solidly middle class. I can’t think of a good equivalent in SF. Golden Gate Park is a beautiful green refuge surrounded by concrete, full of museums and lakes and even a waterfall, both urban and natural at the same time. There’s nothing really like it in Seattle — Volunteer Park is much smaller and not nearly as vital to the life of the city, and Seattle Center is much too developed. And there’s absolutely nothing in Seattle that compares with the spectacular vistas, cinematic charm, and genteel unaffordability of Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill.

Related Post: Infographic: Seattle Geeks vs. Silicon Valley Geeks

Photo of San Francisco skyline by Mark Dalmulder, via Flickr.


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  • http://www.puzzazz.com/ Roy Leban

    Some missing items:

    The valley :: The Eastside

    The traffic on 101 :: The line at Starbucks

    All the hipsters think SF and all those cool neighborhoods are the place to be but the real work happens in the valley. And there is nothing here close to the traffic on 101.

    And here’s a correction:

    Your startup getting written up in TechCrunch :: Your startup getting written up in GeekWire

    The TechCrunch crowd has no idea how much innovation is happening in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Ivan Vukovic

    I raised my eyebrows as soon as I read The Mission/Ballard pairing (what do they have in common other than being hip and vibrant, which many neighborhoods in either city are?). By the time I read the outside areas, I was done. Palo Alto and Mercer Island? Berkeley and Olympia? Not a chance.

    Russian Hill can be most closely matched with the upper part of Capitol Hill, notably the “Millionaire’s Row” area (although perhaps only with regard to affordability).

    I think the takeaway here is that the two cities aren’t comparable at all when it comes to the nuances of their respective neighborhoods. Both offer unique flavors that you can’t quite get at the other.

  • http://www.nclf.net/ Goldman60

    Shouldn’t Palo Alto be Redmond… ya know, where all the tech companies in the Seattle Metro are?

    • http://ohheyworld.com/ Drew Meyers

      All the tech companies are not in Redmond. Mainly just that giant one called Microsoft is..

  • patroclus1

    Mission::Beacon Hill(South)


    Palo Alto::Redmond

    Walnut Creek::Issaquah/Sammamish

    Mercer Island::Sausalito/Marin County

    The Sunset District::Blue Ridge

    Complaining about hipsters ::Complaining about hipsters

  • Eelco

    Richmond :: Magnolia? Entirely not.

    • Jim Brown

      Totall agree, Magnolia is closer to the Marina than Richmond

  • P Evans

    Last item about “vistas”–there is no comparing Rainier to brown lump Mt Tam, and the Berkeley Hills to the Cascades or Olympics. Similarly, the view of downtown Seattle from within Seattle (West Seattle, Queen Anne, etc etc) vs SF from say Potrero Hill (though from the GG and Bay bridges it’s better than I-90 or 520)

  • Guest

    Sausalito :: Kirkland

    • Iris Brady

      Kirkland wishes

  • Tiffany

    I always thought of Ballard as being like the Inner or Outer Sunset, depending on how close to Old Ballard you are.

  • http://www.jonathoncolman.org/ Jonathon Colman

    Hey folks, I love Geekwire, the community that you’ve built, and the services that you provide, but this is a pretty lazy guest post.

    Berkeley = Olympia? Palo Alto = Mercer Island? Really? You’re better than this.

  • Luke

    Pretty sure the person who wrote this is from San Francisco.

  • Uhr Filman

    You’ve clearly never been to west seattle.

  • Andrew

    I, for one, thought the original post was informative and fun. Thank you!

  • Burrito Wrap!

    I was a Californian who moved to Seattle back in 1997. During my time in Seattle (about 13 years) I always heard a steady stream of invective against Californians. It got to the point that I hesitated mentioning to people that I was born and raised in California.

    I always found this a bit odd for two reasons:

    1. Most people who railed against Californians seemed to only understand some vague notion of Southern California.

    2. The Seattle people who railed the most against California were often not even born in Seattle.

    I know it is tempting to compare S.F. and Seattle for a number of reasons – including a rarely mentioned history of extreme anti-Chinese prejudice – but I don’t buy the attempt to easily pigeon hole the two areas.

    Plus, Berkeley is not all like Olympia. And S.F.’s Chinatown bears virtually no resemblance to Seattle’s International District.

  • Chilly

    Books about old San Francisco :: West Seattle

    I don’t see the Ballard/Mission comparison. The Mission used to be the hood, and is now gentrified but still has a lot of crime. The only part of the analogy that works is that Ballard is the only place in Seattle I’ve had a SF-tier taco: El Camion.

    • Iris Brady

      Mission :: Ballard made me laugh

  • BillyBilly

    Pier 57::Pier 39

    Pier 57 is the one with the new ferris wheel and other tourist attractions. Pioneer Square bears no resemblance whatsoever SF’s Pier 39. With its vacant storefronts, high crime and constant smell of urine, Pioneer Square has become more like the Tenderloin.

  • Secure Contain Protect

    Grew up in Oakland, live in Seattle now, and from the SF neighborhoods I know, this is about right

  • lattetown

    Pretty entertaining =p …though I think both cities complain about the hipsters (unless it’s at a micro-roaster). BTW, the Embarcadero is like the Waterfront, not the Seattle Center (which is sort of like Golden Gate Park if you swap the De Young Museum for the Opera House).

  • Nathan James

    Dont forget to add the tax comparison between the two states,they are not perfect but they provide value.

  • Abigail HAMILTON

    Mill Valley :: Bainbridge Island

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