San Francisco – EverydayInsider! (TM) Trip 12

This series takes visitors to stops along San Francisco’s famed 49 Mile Drive – with stops at all the scenic wonders which make up this world renowned City by the Bay.

Russian Hill is south-west from Fisherman’s Wharf and is the next logical stop on the Drive. It is often paired with affluent Nob Hill and is only a little less renowned.

Basically, this is a residential neighborhood with pockets of restaurants and shops, and it feels a bit more visitor-friendly than its more formal neighbor, Nob Hill. The views from Russian Hill are also just as dazzling.

The larger neighborhood got its name when gold rush miners found 7 Cyrillic-inscribed gravestones at the top of the hill. The consensus never gelled on the identity of the Russian men buried there. They were reputed to be anything from sailors to fur trappers. Amazingly, the gravestones disappeared in the late 1800s and the Russian influence in the area has long since dissipated, although you can still see the Russian Orthodox historic church near Fort Ross, north of San Francisco on the coast in Marin County.

Russian Hill has country-like lanes and terraces and panoramic bay views, as I said. Lombard Street descends the hill from Hyde — with nine hairpin turns in a single block — that’s why it is called “The Crookedest Street in the World”.

To see some of the grandest examples of Russian Hill homes, if you are in good physical shape, then walk along the Vallejo Street Crest District, a National Register of Historic Places site. Many of the best buildings were designed by Arts and Crafts era architect Willis Polk.

San Francisco Art Institute is another possible destination for you in this neighborhood. The architects of San Francisco’s City Hall designed this Spanish-style structure, complete with bell tower, in the 1920s. You can stop in to view the school’s imposing and magnificent Diego Rivera mural, or to take in a student exhibit or artist lecture. The school café is also open to the public and offers comforting staples like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, burgers and just-baked cookies, accompanied by a splendid view of the Bay. 800 Chestnut St., (415) 771-7020.

I’ll share a few of the best commercial parts of Russian Hill tomorrow.

For more information on events, history and local issues, see the Russian Hill Neighbors Association.

Part 1: San Francisco Everyday Insider

San Francisco Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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