The Neighborhood Through Time
Native Americans and the South of Market
Before the Gold Rush, much of where South of Market is now located was covered by sand dunes, incised by the channel of Mission Creek which flowed eastward to Mission Bay. Around the margins of the creek and bay were many springs, marshlands and peat bogs. This pattern of dunes, creeks, marshes and bay shore was characteristic of the landscape occupied by Native Americans when they settled the San Francisco peninsula. Their shell middens, stone tool manufacturing and habitation sites can still be found under the city streets and buildings of modern day San Francisco.
The Costanoans, consisting of eight groups, moved into the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas of California about A.D. 500. At the time of settlement by Europeans, the San Francisco peninsula lay within the Ramaytush or San Franciscan Costanoan's territory. This group consisted of about 1,400 people. The Ramaytush Costanoans were attracted by the fresh water and rich resources in the vicinity of Mission Creek. The Mission Bay also contained a plentiful concentration of plants, shell fish and fish. The Costanoans built two villages in the vicinity of what is now South of Market. "Sitlintac" was a summer settlement on Mission Bay, while a winter village of "Chutchui" was developed a couple of miles upstream on Mission Creek.