Russian Hill- Home to Lombard Street but so much more!

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. Like Nob Hill, Russian Hill was almost completed leveled during the 1906 fire. But rebuilding came swiftly and its replacement was attractive (although less ornate than the Victorian era) flats and apartments. Russian is most famous for Lombard Street, where the roadway switches back 8 times down a steep road. This is interesting but extremely touristy. I much prefer the views at Ina Coolbirth Park, which leads down to Telegraph Hill. Very few tourist come here. One can see San Francisco in several directions from here. Other attractive pedestrian only lanes/stairs include Macondray Lane and Fallon Place.

Russian Hill from an urban perspective has great access to several exciting urban districts (Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, and Telegraph Hill), and itself hosts three quality biz districts (Polk St, Hyde St, and Columbus Ave). It also has great schools, is safe, provides quality transit access, and due to its hills and high rises is a very imaginable district. Areas to improve include more modern ADA curbs in many intersections and more bikes lanes. There is also a strong need for more affordable 3 & 4 bedrooms spaces to attract family households.

Click here to view my Russian Hill Flickr Album


* Excellent urban density.
* High quality urban transit and very convenient access to Downtown and other central districts.
* Very few auto centric spots in the district. Great urban form along the commercial districts.
* Good racial diversity.
* 70% of all units are rent controlled in the district.
* Several quality parks within or on the edges of Russian Hill. But not walkable to any blockbuster parks. The Ina Coolbirth Park is one of my favorites for views of the City. Its very much off the beaten path.
* With biz districts along Broadway, Polk St, and Columbus Ave there are excellent retail amenities including plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafes, several bookstores, plenty of small to medium ethnic grocers and healthy grocery stores, a couple hardware stores & pharmacies, lots of boutiques and unique retail, gyms, dessert places, and local library. Russian Hill is also adjacent to Chinatown, Little Italy, Fisherman’s wharf and only 1.5 miles to Union Square in Dwtn.
* Cultural amenities include a plethora of art galleries and local performing arts theaters, a couple live music venues, a handful of local museums. Walkable to the many cultural amenities of Chinatown, Little Italy, Fisherman’s Wharf and Downtown.
* a very safe district.
* Excellent public schools both within and just outside of the district’s borders. Russian Hill hosts the highly rated Galileo High and a couple Catholic schools.
* Very nice historic architecture and very good modern in-fill, albeit not a ton of it.
* Great imageability with several distinctive biz districts, strong borders, and lots of elevation change creating some interesting landmarks.


* Quite a few missing ADA curbs and steep hills make the ADA infrastructure less than other San Fran districts but still good overall.
* Only one bike lane running down Polk St but a good # of bike shares concentrated along the thoroughfares.
* Poor generational diversity and only fair economic diversity.
* Medium rent is 2,300, higher than the City’s average.
* For sale housing is certainly expense but unlike most San Fran districts some studios & 1-bedrooms sell around 500K/700K. Most 1-bedrooms sell in the low 1 Ms, 2-bedrooms generally 1-2 M, 3-bedrooms 2-3.5 M but plenty sell for more. Good amount of 4 & 5 bedroom units for 3-9M.
* Studios lease for around 2K, 1-bedroom rentals lease from 2.5-3.5K, 2-bedrooms 3-5K. There are very few 3 -bedroom rentals available.
* The district lacks a full service grocery store, department stores, and local post office.

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