Russian Hill, San Francisco
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Russian Hill seen from the southeast
|City and county||San Francisco|
|• Supervisor||Catherine Stefani|
|• Assemblymember||David Chiu (D)|
|• State Senator||Scott Wiener (D)|
|• U. S. Rep.||Nancy Pelosi (D)|
|• Total||0.397 sq mi (1.03 km2)|
|• Density||33,000/sq mi (13,000/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−8 (Pacific)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−7 (PDT)|
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, a 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 remained.
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 built in 1922, was intended to reduce the hill's natural 27 percent grade, which was too steep for most vehicles to climb. As it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city, this section of the neighborhood is frequently crowded with tourists. Tourists also frequent the 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 notable feature of Russian Hill are the many pedestrian-only lanes such as Macondray Lane and Fallon Place.
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
It is in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and is within the Jean Parker Elementary School attendance area. The school building was first built in 1911 and rebuilt in 1996.
- Stewart Alsop II, IT investor and journalist
- Brian Boitano, American figure skater
- Gelett Burgess, writer
- Neil Cassady, writer
- Alison Collins, activist and San Francisco School Board Commissioner
- Harmeet Dhillon, lawyer and Republican party official
- Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos founder and CEO
- Jack Kerouac, writer
- Gavin Newsom, former Mayor of San Francisco and current Governor of California
- Cynthia Oti, radio show host
- Willis Polk, architect
- William H. Ranlett, architect
- Andrew Summers Rowan, army officer
- Fanny Stevenson, wife of Robert Louis Stevenson
- Rose Wilder Lane, writer and daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder
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.
Based on the view from the window, Admiral James T. Kirk's apartment seen in the films Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was located in the Russian Hill area of San Francisco.
In the racing video game Blur, one of the courses is named after and closely resembles Russian Hill.
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- Castmate Cory Murphy notes the address when first arriving in the season premiere. The dates in which the cast lived in the house are given by Judd Winick on pages 61 and 119 in his 2000 book, Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss and What I Learned.
- Kostura, William (1996). Russian Hill: The Summit, 1853–1906. Aerie Publications.