Russian Hill is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in San Francisco and is part of a cluster of high-end neighborhoods in the north-east and north-central part of the city. These including: Nob Hill, North Beach, Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow and the Marina. These neighborhoods all have a higher population density than most of the rest of the city, with larger and taller buildings.
Russian Hill is closer to the waterfront than either Nob Hill or Pacific Heights and offers some of the most stunning views of the north-bay, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the financial district.
Russian Hill is home to dedicated urbanites young and old. The housing stock is more mixed than Nob Hill, which is nearly all condominiums and TICs. As the Housing Stock Overview chart indicates, roughly half (66%) of the residential properties sold in Russian Hill over the last year were condos.
However, a surprisingly high percentage of unit sales were single family homes and duplexes. It’s surprising because Russian Hill is a relatively high-density urban neighborhood with close proximity to the financial district and the waterfront.
Russian Hill is within a brisk (steep) walking distance to the financial district. Since it’s in the eastern part of the city, Russian Hill is often warmer than the western neighborhoods, which can have cooler temperatures resulting from ocean fog. This happens most frequently during the summer months. The fog dissipates and burns off as it moves east over land, making Russian Hill sunny, warm and pleasant most of the time.
The main shopping, dining and retail areas are along Polk Street, Columbus Street, which is the border of North Beach, and along Hyde Street between Jackson and Union. There are also small shops and restaurants scattered throughout the neighborhood interior and along Bay Street.
The Polk Street strip is easily the largest retail area for Russian Hill. It extends through all of Nob Hill and attracts people from all over the city. It starts at Union Street and runs south to Sutter. This nearly mile-long strip is one of the most vibrant parts of the city. The many cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs cater to the younger, professional demographic living in all the surrounding, upscale neighborhoods. (Bring your wallet.)
Russian Hill is also a short walk to many major tourist destinations along the north waterfront, including:
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Ghiradelli Square
- Aquatic Park
- Fort Mason
- Pier 39
Russian Hill also boasts one of the single biggest tourist attractions in all of San Francisco. The section of Lombard between Hyde and Leavenworth has eight sharp switchbacks carved into the hill in order to allow vehicles to negotiate the steep grade. This has become known as “the worlds crookedest street,” much to the chagrin of local residents. Tourist traffic frequently jams the surrounding narrow streets causing gridlock throughout much of the summer tourist season.
Another major attraction is the Hyde Street cable car that connects the Hyde Street Pier to the financial district. The Hyde Street Pier is home to several tall ships and is an integral part of the Fisherman’s Wharf area.