Russian Hill, a residential neighborhood with pockets of restaurants and shops, feels a bit more visitor-friendly than its more formal neighbor, Nob Hill. The views are also just as dazzling. The neighborhood got its name when gold rushers found seven Cyrillic-inscribed gravestones at the top of the hill. Consensus on the identity of the Russian men buried there — they were reputed to be anything from sailors to fur trappers — was never reached, the gravestones disappeared in the late 1800s and the Russian influence has long since dissipated.
Charming restaurants and small businesses cluster on leafy Hyde Street between Jackson and Union Streets, and Polk Street is crowded with unusual boutiques, antique shops, trendy restaurants and night spots. A mini French quarter has sprung up around Polk and Green, where you’ll find a great bistro, a traditional café-boulangerie, a French antiques store, and several French-influenced gift and home décor shops.
The center of Russian Hill is accessible by the Hyde-Powell cable car and two Muni buses, the 41 (weekday rush hour only) and the 45. The 19 runs along Polk Street, stopping frequently from Ghirardelli Square to the Tenderloin.
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