Neighborhoods / Russian Hill

Russian Hill

The San Francisco of movies

You may think you know all there is to know about Russian Hill; you don’t. You may know that the cable car still runs down Hyde Street before turning left at Washington, that Steve McQueen tore down Taylor Street in his Mustang during the climactic chase scene of the 1968 movie “Bullitt” or that Anna Madrigal’s “Barbary Lane” was actually a fictionalized Macondray Lane, but you still don’t know everything.You may even have found out where Neal Cassady lived on Russell Street. There’s still more to know about one of San Francisco’s most famous neighborhoods. Russian Hill is where you’ll find hordes of tourists taking pictures of the “Crookedest Street in the World,” and where you can pause — from almost anywhere — and drink in panoramic views of San Francisco, the bay, Marin County and the East Bay. It’s also a complex maze of steep streets, apartment buildings, mansions, Edwardian flats and one street (Polk) teeming with restaurants, bars and shops. You may think you know Russian Hill, but even natives know there’s always more to learn about what may be San Francisco’s most famous — and most picturesque — neighborhood.

Area Map

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Commute

All major tech company buses run north-south on Van Ness Avenue, with stops at Pacific Avenue and Union Street. The Google bus also stops at Columbus Avenue and Union.

SFMTA Buses:
Several MTA bus lines run east-west through Russian Hill, including the 30 Express (Broadway), the 41 and 45 (Union Street) and the 47 and 30 Local (Bay Street). The 30 also runs north-south on Columbus Avenue and the 19 travels the same directions on Polk Street.There are multiple lines running north-south on Van Ness Avenue as well.

Cable Car
The Powell/Hyde cable car line runs the length of Hyde Street from Aquatic Park before turning on Mason.

Nearest MUNI Metro
Van Ness Station

Nearest BART
Civic Center

Estimated Commute Times
Financial District by bus: 25 minutes
Financial District on foot: 25 minutes
South San Francisco via auto: 35 minutes
Silicon Valley via auto: 65 minutes

Around the Block

Who Lives Here
Russian Hill is one of San Francisco’s most iconic neighborhoods, very popular with anyone looking for the classic cable cars-with-an-Alcatraz-view city experience. It is populated by a mix of wealthy and not-so-wealthy, long-time residents and ambitious newcomers.

Outdoorsy, elegant, aware
Russian Hill isn’t all mansions with views, but it has more than its share of spectacular dwellings — and spectacular views. It also has countless flats, apartments and condominiums, giving it a diverse population and an urban atmosphere different from ther high-end San Francisco neighborhoods like Pacific Heights. Some of San Francisco’s most familiar bold face names have called Russian Hill home, but so have the workaday singles, couples and families that comprise the backbone of the city. Polk Street on a Friday night may overflow with the usual collection of ambitious tech and finance professionals, but climb any one of Russian Hill’s steep streets and you’ll find longtime residents living in flats that have been in the family for generations, recent immigrants making their way in the new world, young families putting down roots and recent arrivals from all over the country, drawn by the neighborhood’s iconic views, convenient location and exciting urban vibe.

How They Live
They climb hills regularly, live in apartments, condos and grand mansions, take buses more often than trains and every day enjoy views the rest of the world commonly sees on television and in movies.

A town within a city
Ask a Noe Valley local how often they feel the need to leave their neighborhood; they’ll probably be stumped. Other than for work, they might say, we can’t think of any reason to leave. Noe Valley is one of those unique places — a small town surrounded by a big city. It’s friendly, close-knit and casual but still offers all of the resources and opportunities of a major urban center. Do you appreciate restaurants that have been ranked among the country’s best? La Ciccia is just down Church Street. How about a cutting-edge store selling shampoos, body washes, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies — to anyone who can supply their own refillable bottle? That’s Green 11. Need some exercise? A brisk walk up Billy Goat hill should satisfy that craving. It’s all here, and if it’s not it’s just a short walk away.

Housing Market
The Russian Hill market spans a vast breadth of options, from unrestored Edwardian units to massive traditional mansions, new construction to 1970s contemporary and everything in-between.

Do believe the hype
Noe Valley was born as a working-class neighborhood, but those days are long gone. Because of its large collection of spacious single-family homes, many of which just happen to have been built during the Victorian era, Noe Valley has become a high-end neighborhood with a median sales price approaching $2 million. There are condos and apartments available in Noe Valley, but they also come at a price running roughly 20-25 percent higher than the citywide median. The homes in Noe Valley are beautiful — most have been restored or reimagined — but buyers can expect to pay well over asking price to get into this very popular neighborhood.

What To Expect
Familiar sights, a surprising number of humble residential buildings, tradition married to innovation.

A little quiet, a little bustling
In some ways, Noe Valley is a neighborhood like none other in San Francisco. More of its residents own their homes than is the city average and more live in single-family homes. The collection of restaurants and night spots on 24th and Church Streets is ample but nowhere near what you’ll find in the nearby Mission or in other date-friendly city neighborhoods. While the neighborhood has its share of young professionals, and dogs rival babies for 24th Street supremacy, Noe Valley is at its heart a family neighborhood, a place people come to and stay, with an easy proximity to several work centers both in and out of the city that has inevitably drawn tech workers to this once blue-collar place.

What Not To Expect
Flat surfaces, an overwhelming amount of fog, quiet days on a certain block of Lombard Street, parking.

A quiet, serene suburb this isn’t
A visitor to San Francisco, hearing of Noe Valley, might be surprised to hear someone call it a “quintessential San Francisco neighborhood.” Where are the cable cars, the steep hills, the Golden Gate Bridge views? It has none of the things that show up on postcards about San Francisco. Instead it has MUNI, a walkable commercial area and views (for some lucky residents) of downtown’s iconic skyline. It doesn’t have a non-stop nightlife scene and was never used as the setting of a Dashiell Hammett novel, but it’s as San Francisco as anything else in the city.

PERFECT FOR
Families, lovers of Victorian architecture and long-term renovation projects, those who prefer a quiet neighborhood bar over a pulse-quickening nightclub; farm-to-table enthusiasts, young parents with encyclopedic knowledge of stroller brands, oenophiles, those who think breakfast is he most important meal of the day; pedestrians; believers in public transit; families.

NOT PERFECT FOR
People who prefer an over-the-top urban experience 24/7; Dog- and stroller-haters; anyone turned off by Victorian architecture; workers in a huge rush to get downtown; people who hate hills; anyone who doesn’t welcome the sight of billowing clouds of fog at 5 PM; singles wanting a new place to go for every night of the week; dislikers of sandals, Gore-tex and outdoor lifestyle brands; multiple car owners looking for parking.

You’ll Fall In Love With
The classic, timeless romance of a neighborhood that is synonymous with one of the world’s favorite cities. The sights, sounds and history of Russian Hill does not disappoint.

Saturday farmers’ markets, followed by a stroll down 24th Street, window shopping, a side trip to Dolores Park, dinner at La Ciccia and, finally, a nightcap at the Valley Tavern; breakfast at Chloe’s or Toast; tea and antiques at Lovejoy’s Tea Room; sipping coffee outdoors in a parklet; letting your dog run wild at the Upper Douglass Dog Park; dodging strollers during your morning walk; choosing between PlumpJack and Noe Wine Merchants; seasonal salads with a side of housemade potato chips at the Cask House; trick-or-treating on 24th and Fair Oaks Streets.

Places to go

Allegro Romano
Allegro Romano
1701 Jones Street

La Folie
La Folie
2316 Polk Street

Leopold’s
Leopold’s
2400 Polk

Stone’s Throw
Stone’s Throw
1896 Hyde Street

Frascati
Frascati
1901 Hyde

Woods Polk Station
Woods Polk Station
2255 Polk Street

Shanghai Kelly’s
Shanghai Kelly’s
2064 Polk

Bullitt
Bullitt
2209 Polk

Greens Sports Bar
Greens Sports Bar
2239 Polk

Tonic
Tonic
2360 Polk

Swenson’s Ice Cream
Swenson’s Ice Cream
1999 Hyde Street

Cobb’s Comedy Club
Cobb’s Comedy Club
915 Columbus Avenue

Go! Indoor Cycling
Go! Indoor Cycling
1561 Powell Street

Alice Marble Tennis Courts
Alice Marble Tennis Courts
1200 Greenwich Street

Crunch - Alhambra
Crunch - Alhambra
2330 Polk Street

TRX Training Center
TRX Training Center
1650 Pacific Avenue

Burn SF - Broadway
Burn SF - Broadway
1424 Broadway

Romulo Melo Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Romulo Melo Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
1313 Mason Street

Hyde Street Cable Car Line
Hyde Street Cable Car Line

Crookedest Street in the World
Crookedest Street in the World

Ina Coolbrith Park
Ina Coolbrith Park
Vallejo and Taylor Streets

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