The silhouettes of San Francisco’s tallest peaks frame the tree-lined neighborhoods overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Demographically, west side residents include many of the City’s best educated, most affluent and most influential homeowners. Steeped in history, the area also boasts San Francisco’s highest voter turnout.
At the crest of San Francisco’s tallest peak stands Mt. Davidson Cross (elevation 938 feet), the largest monument of its kind in America. Dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934, the 103-foot-tall cross is the focal point of the annual Easter Sunrise Service. Ringed by an extensive network of hiking trails, the heavily forested Mt. Davidson Park is surrounded by the quiet residential neighborhoods of Sherwood Forest, Miraloma Park and St. Francis Wood.
Nearby Twin Peaks affords the City’s best auto-accessible view of the downtown skyline from bridge to bridge.
The 918-foot-tall Sutro Tower casts its shadow on the adjacent Sutro Forest, which is part of the campus of the world class medical facility run by University of California at San Francisco. Hidden in the forest’s dense overgrowth is Ishi’s Cave, named after the last member of the Yahi Indian tribe, who spent time there during his stay at UCSF.
To the west, Edgehill Mountain, Hawk Hill and Larsen Peak round out the mini-mountain range that stands as a silent sentinel protecting eastern portions of the City from coastal fog.
Emerging from the depths of the Twin Peaks Tunnel at the West Portal Muni Metro station are three key streetcar lines: the “K-Ingleside,” which runs down Ocean Avenue to the main campus of City College of San Francisco, California’s largest community college; the “L-Taraval” which ends up near Ocean Beach and the SF Zoo; and the “M-Oceanview” which passes the upscale Stonestown shopping mall, the vibrant campus at San Francisco State University and Parkmerced, the largest residential development in the western United States.
The Twin Peaks Tunnel opened in 1915, creating San Francisco’s first “urban suburb” at its “west portal.” The area was first developed in 1915 by Fernando Nelson, who coined the term “West Portal Park.” The commercial district took root in 1921 when Phillip Marshall built the West Portal Pharmacy. The streets were paved and lighted in the 1930s, thereby laying the foundation for the charming “village” character that exists to this day.
West Portal Avenue offers a mix of trendy boutiques, specialty shops and cafes. The area’s fine dining establishments feature an eclectic blend of American and international cuisine – including gourmet Indian, Asian, Middle-Eastern, Italian, Polish and south-of-the-border eateries.
Tucked away in the surrounding neighborhoods are several distinctive local landmarks: the Forest Hill Clubhouse, designed by renowned architect Bernhard Maybeck; St. Francis Wood’s historic fountains; and the Entrada Sundial (the world’s largest when it was dedicated), located at the heart of Urbano Drive – a residential street that marks the route of a former horse racetrack and the site of California’s first automobile race
Hidden from view between the Parkside and Merced Manor neighborhoods is the sylvan eucalyptus-lined valley that makes up Sigmund Stern Grove, site of an annual summer Sunday concert series. With musical offerings ranging from jazz to world beat to the San Francisco Symphony, the Stern Grove Festival is the nation’s oldest continuously running free music festival.
A few blocks south of Stern Grove is Lowell High School, which consistently ranks among the nation’s top 10 academic high schools. Situated across from the Lowell campus are the twin lakes that form Lake Merced, The City’s largest body of fresh water. In addition to offering year-round boating and fishing opportunities, Lake Merced is a popular destination for picnickers, bikers and joggers.
The area surrounding Lake Merced also boasts some of the world’s finest golf courses – including the ultra-exclusive San Francisco Golf Club, the Olympic Club’s famed Lake Course (which has hosted the U.S. Open and PGA TOUR Championship), and the recently-renovated municipal course at Harding Park, the site of Tiger Woods’ 2005 AMEX Golf Championship victory and the 2009 President’s Cup.
Distribution by Neighborhood: St. Francis Wood, Forest Hill, Lakeside, Diamond Heights, Ingleside Terrace, Parkside, Taraval and Miraloma Park
Distribution by Zip Code: 94127, 94112, 94116, 94131 and 94132