Russian Hill's lofty role in height debate
Russian Hill pivotal in city's debate over building height
by John King
"...While Fontana Towers grabbed the headlines, several modern high-rises rose on Russian Hill itself. The most striking is the Summit at 999 Green from 1965, 32 stories developed by Joseph Eichler where the upper floors flare outward. Next door are four Willis Polk cottages from 1916, which are among the two dozen homes between Broadway, Jones, Vallejo and Taylor streets that survived the 1906 earthquake or were built shortly afterward...The block dominated by Eichler's Summit is now the Russian Hill-Vallejo Street Crest national historic district. At the very top, framing a park with a sloping lawn and aged trees behind a classical balustrade, two modest shingled buildings occupy sites cleared in the 1960s for towers that never got built. They were developed by longtime residents eager to preserve the ambiance. The hill's settled aura comes with a price."
|"A brute of a building" - Herb Caen|
"Russian Hill is the stuff of which San Francisco legends are made. Snug stairways lead to homes by Willis Polk and Julia Morgan. Hyde Street is a shady nook with cable cars rumbling by. Jack Kerouac lived with Neal and Carolyn Cassidy at 29 Russell Place in 1952, and Armistead Maupin reimagined Macondray Lane as the anything-goes Barbary Lane in 1976.
It’s also a terrain of modern slab towers, startling juxtapositions that are all the more startling when you consider that no big buildings have been added since the 1960s. Instead, residents of the hill fought hard to stop anything tall from being added to the landscape after the initial wave — an effort that helped fuel the citywide antipathy to towers in the 1970s and 1980s."
|SF Bay and Coit Tower from The Summit|