Harman Patil (Editor)

Russian Hill, San Francisco

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Country  United States
City and county  San Francisco
ZIP codes  94109, 94133
Area code  Area codes 415 and 628
State  California
Time zone  Pacific (UTC−8)
Area  103 ha
Russian Hill, San Francisco httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
Restaurants  The Stinking Rose ‑ Sa, La Folie, Za Pizza, Nick's Crispy Tacos, Trattoria Contadina
Hotels  da Vinci Villa, Columbus Motor Inn, Suites at Fisherma Wharf, Van Ness Inn San Francisco, Travelodge by Fisherma

Russian Hill is a neighborhood of San Francisco, California, in the United States. It is named after one of San Francisco's 44 hills, and one of its original "Seven Hills".


Map of Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA, USA


Russian Hill is directly to the north (and slightly downhill) from Nob Hill, to the south (uphill) from Fisherman's Wharf, and to the west of the North Beach neighborhood. The Hill is bordered on its west side by parts of the neighborhoods of Cow Hollow and the Marina District.

At the northern foot of the hill is Ghirardelli Square, which sits on the waterfront of the San Francisco Bay, Aquatic Park, and Fisherman's Wharf, an extremely popular tourist area. A trip down the winding turns of Lombard Street and across Columbus Avenue to the east leads to the neighborhood of North Beach. Down the hill to the west, past Van Ness Avenue, are Cow Hollow and the Marina districts.


The neighborhood's name goes back to the Gold Rush era, when settlers discovered a small Russian cemetery at the top of the hill. Russian naval and merchant ships frequently visited San Francisco throughout the 19th century beginning in 1806, and there are several mentions of burials of crew members in the Russian Hill cemetery in the first half of the century. The cemetery was eventually removed, but the name remains to this day. Although Holy Trinity Cathedral, the oldest Russian Orthodox church in San Francisco, is located a few blocks away on Van Ness and Green Street, there is no significant Russian presence in the area, as the city's Russian community is located primarily in the Richmond District.

Noteworthy characteristics

The neighborhood is most famous for Lombard Street, the one-way section on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, in which the roadway has eight sharp turns (or switchbacks) that have earned the street the distinction of being "the crookedest street in the world". The switchbacks design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry and instituted in 1922, was born out of necessity in order to reduce the hill's natural 27% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles to climb. As it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city, this section of the neighborhood is frequently crowded with tourists. Tourists also frequent the famous cable car line along Hyde Street, which is lined with many restaurants and shops.

A small park at the top of the hill on Vallejo Street features a small plaque and memorial placed by the Russian Government that is dedicated to the original Russian cemetery that is the neighborhood's namesake.

Another park is named after Ina Coolbrith.

Views from the top of the hill extend in several directions around the Bay Area, including the Bay Bridge, Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Russian Hill is home to the San Francisco Art Institute, located on Chestnut Street between Jones and Leavenworth Streets. Academy of Art University also maintains a presence in this neighborhood with their Chestnut St. building hosting their fine art MFA studios, photo classrooms, and photo studios.

Because of the steepness of the hill, many streets, portions of Vallejo and Green streets, for example, are staircases. Another famous feature of Russian Hill are the many pedestrian-only lanes such as Macondray Lane and Fallon Place, both with beautiful landscaping and arresting views.

Alice Marble Tennis Courts are four hardcourt tennis courts located at Lombard and Hyde Streets. The courts offer a view of the bay and North Beach and can be unsuitable for tennis on windy days. A basketball court is located adjacent to the tennis courts. The San Francisco Cable Cars serving the Powell-Hyde line stops nearby.

Government and infrastructure

San Francisco Police Department Central Station, Metro Division serves Russian Hill.

Notable residents

  • Stewart Alsop II, IT investor and journalist.
  • Gelett Burgess, writer.
  • Neil Cassady, writer.
  • Jack Kerouac, writer.
  • Gavin Newsom, mayor.
  • Cynthia Oti, radio show host.
  • Willis Polk, architect.
  • William H. Ranlett, architect.
  • Mary Curtis Richardson, painter.
  • Andrew Summers Rowan, army officer.
  • Fanny Stevenson, wife of Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • Rose Wilder Lane, writer and daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  • In fiction

    Life in the neighborhood during the 1970s was used as the basis for the fictionalized series Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin.

    Much of the famous car chase sequence in the 1968 thriller Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen (whose character lived in Nob Hill on Taylor and Clay streets), were filmed on Russian Hill, notably the scenes on Taylor Street. The neighborhood was also featured in the early scenes of the 1982 action-comedy feature film, 48 Hrs.

    The cast of The Real World: San Francisco, which aired in 1994, lived in the house at 949 Lombard Street on Russian Hill from February 12 to June 19, 1994.

    In Anne Rice's book The Wolf Gift, the main character, Reuben Golding, grew up in Russian Hill.

    John "Scottie" Ferguson, a character played by James Stewart lives at 900 Lombard Street in Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo (1958).


    Russian Hill, San Francisco Wikipedia