Russian Hill is one of San Francisco’s most sophisticated neighborhoods and is one of the city’s original “Seven Hills,” with its name tied back to the discovery by Gold Rush settlers of Russian tombstones in the 1800s.
Tourists famously know the neighborhood for Lombard Street, hailed “the Crookedest Street in the World,” designed with eight sharp switchbacks in order to reduce the hill’s naturally steep grade. Being home to the steepest grades in San Francisco also provides unparalleled views of the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge that can be glimpsed from pedestrian stairways, adding to the neighborhood’s easy charm.
The area is home to a pedigree of longtime residents whose families have lived in Russian Hill for over a century. More than 20 percent of the population is over age 65 with the remainder of residents a blend of young lawyers, bankers, and entrepreneurs with a low percentage of families with children. You can find original mid-rise apartment buildings and Victorian and Edwardian homes set back from the streets with gardened and well-landscaped lots, a key characteristic from a previous era.
Although there are many large tourist attractions in the neighborhood including Ghirardelli Square, Lombard Street, and the San Francisco Art Institute, Russian Hill is a collection of much smaller and more intimate spots. With the Hyde-Powell cable car running down the center of Russian Hill, locals and tourists can easily access ice cream parlors, coffee shops, cafes, ethnic restaurants, antique shops, and notably, the birthplace of the Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Café.