Neighbored by Ross to the South, Fairfax to the west, and San Rafael to the East, San Anselmo is a charming community of older homes amid diverse architectural styles, on shady, tree-lined streets. Its name came from the Punta de Quintin land grant, which marked this valley as the Canada del Anselmo (Valley of Anselm - an Indian who was buried in the area.
In the 1870's, what is now known as The Hub in San Anselmo was the spot where a spur track to San Rafael was added to the Sausalito-Tomales run of the Pacific Coast Railroad. For a few years, the town was referred to on railroad maps as, "Junction", but in 1883, the name San Anselmo came back into use. Miracle Mile's and Center Boulevard's current "raised roadbed" were the railroad's right of way. Becoming unprofitable as a result of competition from the automobile and the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, the railway was officially closed on March 1, 1941.
San Anselmo incorporated in April 9, 1907. On March 12, 1974, San Anselmo officially became a town. The downtown area is very "small town" in appearance, but offers a variety of shops and restaurants. San Anselmo Avenue, the town's main shopping area, is a curving boulevard of awning-shaded shops, cafes, galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Known as the "Antique Capital of Northern California," there are, within a half-mile radius of downtown, more than 150 antique dealers who attract collectors from all over the West Coast. The most visible landmark in town, a beautiful stone castle that overlooks San Anselmo, is actually the San Francisco Theological Seminary, established in 1892 to train Presbyterian clergy. From the ivy covered chapel with its enchanting bell tolling the hours, to the turrets and towers, this beautiful facility has an ethereal, fairy tale look.
Now, with a population of approximately 12,000, San Anselmo remains essentially a family town with a gentle pace and friendly ambiance.