Russian Hill seen from the Southwest
|City and county||San Francisco|
|o Supervisor||Mark Farrell|
|o Assemblymember||David Chiu (D)|
|o State Senator||Scott Wiener (D)|
|o U. S. Rep.||Nancy Pelosi (D)|
|o Total||0.397 sq mi (1.03 km2)|
|o Density||33,000/sq mi (13,000/km2)|
|Time zone||Pacific (UTC-8)|
|o Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC-7)|
|ZIP codes||94109, 94133|
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, an extremely 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 remains to this day. Although Holy Trinity Cathedral, the oldest Russian Orthodox church in San Francisco, is located a few blocks away on Van Ness and Green Street, there is no significant Russian presence in the area, as the city's Russian community is located primarily in the Richmond District.
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 instituted in 1922, was born out of necessity in order to reduce the hill's natural 27% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles to climb. As it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city, this section of the neighborhood is frequently crowded with tourists. Tourists also frequent the famous 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 famous feature of Russian Hill are the many pedestrian-only lanes such as Macondray Lane and Fallon Place, both with beautiful landscaping and arresting views.
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.
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. The unique and noteworthy character of the neighborhood, along with the narrowness and steepness of the city streets within it, are reasons why it makes sense for the course to be included in the game.