San Francisco’s Pacific Heights and the Marina

San Francisco  Pacific Heights and the MarinaPacific Heights is an exclusive neighborhood that hugs a hill rising 300 feet above San Francisco.  The area was developed in the 1880s after cable cars linking it with the city center were introduced.

With its magnificent views, it quickly became the place to live, and elegant Victorian houses still line its shady streets.  Most of the buildings are private residences.  To the north of Broadway, the streets drop steeply to the Marina District ending at San Francisco Bay.

The houses in Pacific Heights are built on fill.  The land was once marshy, and it was cleared and drained for the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915, given to show the world that San Francisco was in high spirits after the earthquake of 1906.  The houses in the Marina District are those of a wealthy seaside resort, with boutiques, galleries, cafes and two fancy-schmancy yacht clubs.

Visit Pacific Heights.  When we regular folks go, it’s the same as the high-rollers when they go slumming.  Except it’s the opposite.

Three highlights for visitors to the Pacific Heights District:

1)      The Spreckels Mansion.  This is an impressive limestone building, constructed on the lines of a French Baroque Palace.   This has been home to the family of best-selling novelist Danielle Steele since 1990.  Who says love doesn’t pay!

2)     Lafayettte Park:  This quiet park is an oasis in the heart of the elite part of the city.  Sit and soak up the ambience of the Victorian homes that line the streets.  (It’s between Sacramento Street and Washington Street.)  Across the street (Sacramento) is a fine, French-style mansion.  A plaque commemorates a visit to this home by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1923.

3)     The Haas-Lillienthal House – This Queen-Anne gem is open to the public.  Furnished in Victorian style, the mansion is the home headquarters of the Architectural Heritage Foundation.

Go to Pacific Heights and see how the Swells live.  F. Scott would have been right at home!

Writer: Meredith Blevins, featured travel writer for the Authentic Wine Country.  Join her at for wine-country mysteries, classes, and the untamed west.

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