It may no longer be the political and social heartbeat of the LGBT community in San Francisco (so many have moved out to adjoining neighbourhoods), but the Castro still displays its roots proudly.
Following lunch at the Church Street Café, we sauntered up Market to the intersection with 17th and Castro before turning into Castro Street itself. The number and size of rainbow flags seem to proliferate with every visit. And the full to bursting hanging baskets complemented them perfectly against a soft sky.
Few tourists intruded on what was a very businesslike atmosphere.
But humour cohabits with commerce in the upscale food, gift and clothing stores that adorn the main drag (no pun intended) and adjoining streets.
It might not flaunt its roots nowadays quite as obviously as arguably Haight Street does, but you might still think twice about subjecting your maternal grandmother from Kansas to the sights in some of the window displays.
The most striking building on the street remains the glorious Castro Theatre, which I’m assured by locals is even more spectacular inside. Well, finally, we will get the chance for ourselves to test that opinion by attending the double bill of Romeo and Juliet (the Leonardo di Caprio version) and Strictly Ballroom on Saturday (escaping the predicted heatwave for a few hours).
It is run a close second by the beautiful frontage of the Fork Café a few days away from the movie theatre.
Setting off back down Market Street you might almost miss the brightly coloured mural commemorating those who have died of AIDS since the disease first began to decimate lives in the early eighties. The question in the segment of the mural highlighted above remains as poignant and pertinent today.
Exiting Castro Street at its western end onto Market Street, one cannot fail to be impressed by what I believe to be the largest rainbow flag on the planet, flying over the plaza that commemorates the legacy of the great Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in the country. His influence continues to blaze where people are discriminated on the grounds of whom they fall in love with.