Russian Hill Properties

Written by Linda Alexander
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Russian Hill properties comprise one of the most architecturally heterogeneous neighborhoods in San Francisco. Russian Hill is home to some of the oldest pre-1906 cottages in the cities; it also boasts many other types of buildings. Post-earthquake Edwardian flats, Moorish Revival movie palaces, as well as modern apartment buildings are also found there.

Due to its steep grades, Russian Hill was sparsely populated in its early history. Affluent families built homes on its summit, and the area attracted intellectuals and bohemians until the 1906 earthquake. After the earthquake, the area was quickly reconstructed with dense rows of wood frame flats and apartment buildings.

Russian Hill Properties and Population Changes

It then filled up with working-class people of various ethnicities and religions although the higher elevations were still more desirable. Most of the buildings in Russian Hill today were built during this reconstruction period. Except for remodeling, Russian Hill properties have undergone very little change since the 1970s. There is a height limit of 40 feet, providing very little incentive to remodel.

Russian Hill remains a diverse neighborhood in terms of ethnicity and income. Unlike other, more transient neighborhoods, many old-timers remain on Russian Hill, particularly on the Summit. There, longtime owners have ensured that the many historic Russian Hill properties, as well as landscape features, are preserved.


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