Just south of the Presidio, you'll find the immaculate neighborhood of Presidio Heights.
While Sea Cliff is noted as the neighborhood of choice of actors, musicians and other notable names, Presidio Heights is home to Silicon Valley’s anonymous elite. They have worked hard to earn the best in life, but their luxurious lifestyle is not focused on showing off or being part of a bustling social scene. Instead they are happy to enjoy a quiet (though decidedly upscale) life in an elegant, spacious suburb in the heart of San Francisco.
Presidio Heights residents are not interested in grandstanding. Instead they are interested in setting down roots in a safe, spacious neighborhood - without giving up any of the extravagance their income has afforded them, of course. They don’t need the views of the Golden Gate bridge, and the views from the heights of Sea Cliff because cliffs are inherently dangerous. They’d rather have a large home on a large lot with a large front lawn.
For this, they look to Presidio Heights.
This quiet, sophisticated neighborhood offers a mix of stunning single and multi-family homes in an assortment of architectural styles, including tudor. Some of the largest homes in San Francisco can be found in Presidio Heights.
Of course, buying a home there can prove to be rather difficult. Because the single family homes with large yards take up a lot of space, there aren’t a lot of homes in the neighborhood to begin with. Add to that the fact that most residents are there to start and raise a family, there isn’t a high rate of turnover.
The average house in Presidio Heights costs more than $2 million, and asking prices with 8 digits are not uncommon. There are some multi-unit buildings in the neighborhood, but even those renting are paying a pretty penny to live there. It’s common wisdom that the only thing you’re likely to find for under $1 million in Presidio Heights is a one bedroom condo.
It’s easy to see why it’s such a popular place to live. The neighborhood is tucked into a quiet pocket, but it’s still connected to everything. It’s an 18 minute drive to downtown San Francisco, and a 55 minute drive to Silicon Valley. Directly to the north is the Presidio, a national park offering nearly three square miles of gorgeous greenery for recreational exploration, including trails, woods, a golf course, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.
One of things that makes Presidio Heights such a charming neighborhood is the diversity of architectural styles. The houses are large and unique. You’ll appreciate this even more when you cross south of California Street to Laurel Heights. For quite some time this area was a vast burial ground known as the Laurel Hill Cemetery. In 1941 all of the graves were relocated to Colma, a town south of San Francisco.
Not only were all of the homes in Laurel Heights built after 1941, but they were all built with a bent toward modernist single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses. This created a homogeneity and a less upscale neighborhood than Presidio Heights. Plus there is an increased likelihood of a Poltergeist situation.
One of the most notable houses in Presidio Heights is the Roos Mansion. It was built in 1909 as a wedding present from Morris Meyerfeld, who was a partner in the Orpheum Theater Circuit company, to his daughter Elizabeth Leslie Roos. Elizabeth fired the original architect and insisted that Bernard Maybeck was hired when she heard that he designed theatrical houses.
The house is old enough that the family didn’t fully trust the new convention of wiring a house for electricity, and chose to include various gas powered amenities throughout. Maybeck included a baronial fireplace with a pot for cooking (which is still present, but hasn't been used in decades), though he also included a kitchen and butler’s pantry because Mrs. Roos requested it. The Roos house was passed down within the family until it was finally put up for sale in the 2010s. The original asking price was $16 million but it ultimately sold for $11 million in 2017.
The one and only shopping district within Presidio Heights is on Sacramento street and offers a wide range of designer retail shops and incredible restaurants and cafes like Spruce and As Quoted. The shops there are the cream of the crop, since the residents expect nothing but the best. When they need more variety, they simply head over to Clement street in the Richmond District where there is a seemingly endless amount of shops of all kinds.
While most residents appreciate the quiet nights, if you are looking for some after hours entertainment it can be found not too far away. Geary Boulevard on the south side of Laurel Heights is a commercial zone with bars and ethnic cuisine. Keep going a little further east or south and you’ll run into University of California San Francisco campus or the University of San Francisco respectively.
The proximity of the colleges injects a bit of youth into the surrounding area, which makes it even more perfect for families with young children. City College students, for example, often organize free activities for children as part of their teaching laboratory. The San Francisco Jewish Community Center offers many public programs., and nearby there is Vogue Theatre, one of San Francisco’s oldest operating cinemas, and a farmer’s market on Sundays.
There are great schools, such as the well regarded Roosevelt Middle School, and playgrounds, like Julius Kahn Playground. Built in 1923 to serve military families living at the Presidio, it has recently been renovated to include new playground equipment, basketball courts, playing fields, and a clubhouse, making it a popular meeting spot for Presidio Heights neighbors of all ages.
It’s San Francisco, so of course there is fog. But even the fog seems more elegant in Presidio Heights. It adds a surreal quality. It makes you question if you could really be so lucky to live here, or if your whole life is just a dream. You may ask yourself, “well, how did I get here?”
As the fog clears, though, you’ll realize this is your beautiful house. This is your beautiful spouse. Same as it ever was.
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