Twin Peaks West (St. Francis Wood&Beyound)

District 4, also known as Twin Peaks West, is a primarily residential district located in an area which was once a heavily wooded, scenic land portion, including Mt. Davidson, the highest natural point in San Francisco, and Glen Canyon Park. Prior to the opening of Twin Peaks Tunnel in 1918, District 4 was fairly inaccessible from downtown San Francisco. The Tunnel’s opening created an easy commute into the city center, making Twin Peaks West a prime target for the real estate developers.

After the 1906 earthquake and fire, the so called “residence parks” were created and promoted to white collar residents of San Francisco as an alternative to new housing developments in the East Bay and South Bay Peninsula. These parks featured wide, elegantly landscaped boulevards which followed hillside contours and incorporated neoclassical ornamentation such as pillars, gateways, public stairways and sundials. Inspired by the City Beautiful and Garden City movements (spearheaded by famed architect Daniel Burnham), residence parks were created to replicate the feeling of suburban living in close proximity to downtown San Francisco. The concept became popular, the sales increased significantly in the 1920s, and by the 1930s most tracks in these parks were built out. All residence parks had significant restrictions, including prohibitions on commercial activity, yard size, minimum construction costs, and, initially, racial covenants.

San Francisco boasts eight residence parks, including Sea Cliff, Lincoln Manor, West Clay Park, Jordan Park, St. Francis Wood, Forest Hill, Balboa Terrace, and Ingleside Terrace, with the former four parks located in the Richmond District and the latter four belonging to District 4. Today, District 4 is arguably one of the most upscale districts in San Francisco. Twin Peaks West incorporates sixteen neighborhoods, some of which are the most exclusive ones in the city, such as St. Francis Wood, Forrest Hill, and Balboa Terrace. Diamond Heights arguably has the largest concentration of Eichlers and Mid-Century Modern homes in San Francisco. Family-friendly Ingleside Terrace and Sunnyside are close to I-280, making them a commuter’s delight. Many homes, especially in Sherwood Forest, Miraloma Park and other hillside neighborhoods have panoramic views extending out to the ocean on the west, and the bay and Mt. Diablo to the east. Much of the area’s commerce is concentrated in West Portal, a vibrant community offering a small town atmosphere with great restaurants and upscale businesses.

A highly competitive area, homes here can be expensive and difficult to come by. Some of the most well-known names in San Francisco’s vast catalogue of architects have designed residences here including Bernard Maybeck, Timothy Pflueger, John Galen Howard, Julia Morgan, Joseph Eichler, and Henry Gutterson.

District 4 includes the following neighborhoods:

  • Balboa Terrace
  • Diamond Heights
  • Forest Hill
  • Forest Hill Extension
  • Forest Knolls
  • Ingleside Terrace
  • Midtown Terrace
  • Miraloma Park
  • Monterey Heights
  • Mount Davidson Manor
  • Saint Francis Wood
  • Sherwood Forest
  • Sunnyside
  • West Portal
  • Westwood Highlands
  • Westwood Park

Balboa Terrace (Sub-District 4-a) is an upscale small residential neighborhood full of stately homes, bounded by Junipero Serra Boulevard, Monterey Avenue, Aptos Avenue and Ocean Avenue along the southern edge of the exclusive St. Francis Wood development. Easy access to I-280 and 19th Avenue and Muni Metro line serving downtown make Balboa Terrace an ideal neighborhood for those who seek suburban feel while still living in the city.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 76 and an average Transit score of 70.

Diamond Heights (Sub-District 4-b) is bordered by Noe Valley and Glen Canyon Park. It was the first project of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association aimed at using its redevelopment powers for land on the hills in the center of the city to be developed with, rather than against, the topography. This area boasts sunshine and scenic views of both the bay and the ocean. A renowned developer Joseph Eichler made his first launch into urban development here, creating seven distinct home designs featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, in-floor radiant heat as well as tongue and groove ceilings and courtyards wherever topography allowed. Shopping and entertainment can be found at the Diamond Heights Shopping Center and nearby Noe Valley.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 59 and an average Transit score of 66.

Forest Hill (Sub-District 4-c) is San Francisco’s affluent neighborhood of beautiful single family residences sitting on large and generously landscaped parcels of land. It is located southeast of the Inner Sunset and northeast of West Portal neighborhoods, its boundaries being roughly Seventh Avenue/Laguna Honda Boulevard to the north and east, Taraval Street to the south, and 14th Avenue to the west.

Forest Hill was purchased by a private firm from the heirs of Adolph Sutro and its development began in 1912. As the neighborhood’s streets were initially intended for horse and carriage, they are unusually wide and extravagantly landscaped for San Francisco. Neighborhood’s homes enjoy a view, some have full ocean, and others of downtown San Francisco. Forest Hill is one of the few neighborhoods with no condominium or multi-tenancy developments, making it one of the least-densely populated areas in San Francisco. Its active homeowners’ association requires membership of all property owners and governs remodeling and new construction in the neighborhood.

In addition to its own MUNI station “Forest Hill”, its residents are also within walking distance to the village of West Portal with its various attractions as well as the West Portal MUNI Station, with the commute to downtown San Francisco averaging approximately 15 minutes. The residents further benefit from being 20 minutes driving distance to San Francisco International Airport on I-280 while having a mandated no fly over zone ensuring the neighborhood’s tranquility.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 63 and an average Transit score of 79.

Forest Hill Extension (Sub-District 4-j) is immediately adjacent to its posher neighbor Forest Hill, bordered by Dewey Boulevard on the north, Laguna Honda Boulevard on the east, Portola Drive on the south, and Kensington Way on the west. The homes in Forest Hill Extension are beautiful but smaller than in Forest Hill.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 76 and an average Transit score of 80.

Forest Knolls (Sub-District 4-d) is a serene neighborhood comprising of a broad mix of single family residences, duplexes, multi-unit buildings, town homes and condominiums. Views abound from nearly every street of Forest Knolls and its residents enjoy walking its many trails surrounding Mt. Sutro. This, combined with the proximity of the Golden Gate Park as well as nearby restaurants, clubs and shopping opportunities add to this neighborhood’s recreational and cultural appeal. Lots of trees and friendly neighbors also add to the character of Forest Knolls.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 47 and an average Transit score of 68.

Ingleside Terrace (Sub-District 4-e) is an affluent small neighborhood built at a former site of the Ingleside Racetrack which once attracted jockeys from all over the country. It is adjacent to the Ingleside neighborhood, and is bordered by Ocean Avenue to the north, Ashton Avenue to the east, Holloway Avenue to the south and Junipero Serra Boulevard to the west.

The neighborhood officially opened in 1913, offering Edwardian era San Franciscans a true residential park. Ingleside Terrace offers modern city dwellers a quiet, peaceful, almost suburban atmosphere with easy access to urban amenities. This is a walkable neighborhood, with Ocean Avenue shopping and services and the Stonestown Galleria Mall within blocks. Muni's K-line streetcar runs right along Ocean Avenue and straight to West Portal with all of its shops and dining to the north, or down to the Glen Park or Balboa Park BART stations and City College to the south. San Francisco State University is also nearby. Adjacent Junipero Serra Boulevard offers commuters easy access to the Peninsula.

This neighborhood is also noteworthy for its Annual Sundial Park Picnic, in which the local residents host bicycle, chariot, and wagon racing.  There is a large sundial located on Entrada Court, surrounded by oval-shaped Urbano Drive, which was once a horse race track.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 76 and an average Transit score of 70.

Midtown Terrace (Sub-District 4-f) – is a quiet, almost suburban neighborhood perched on the western slope of Twin Peaks. Founded in 1957 and designed as a planned community, its homes are separate and detached. The street names tell the story: Farview, Longview, Cityview, Clairview, etc. - several neighborhood homes boast some of the highest elevations around. The nearby Twin Peaks as well as several noteworthy restaurants and retail shops add to the picture.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 44 and an average Transit score of 70.

Miraloma Park (Sub-District 4-h) – situated along the eastern face of Mount Davidson (highest hill in San Francisco), Miraloma Park boasts magnificent views. Its proximity to Glen Canyon makes it an ideal destination for those who enjoy nature but cannot always get out of the city. The small commercial strip on Portola Drive houses high-end grocery stores, coffee shops, bakeries and basic services venues. While Miraloma Park is not renowned for the bustling entertainment scene, its residents can easily resort to the dining and entertainment options offered by the nearby West Portal and Glen Park. Neighborhood’s homes come in a wide variety of architectural styles, with most of the local homes conceived as a single development and constructed prior to World War II. Miraloma Park is home to a classic clubhouse built around 1940 which hosts many private events as well as an annual holiday bazaar.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 56 and an average Transit score of 77.

Monterey Heights (Sub-District 4-m) – is a primarily quiet residential area with an active neighborhood association. It is located on the western slope of Mount Davidson (highest hill in San Francisco), immediately southwest of Twin Peaks and near St. Francis Wood, Sherwood Forest and Westwood Highlands. It is known for its mostly stately homes of various architectural styles with larger yards, front and back. There are few retail or commercial outlets in this neighborhood which contributes to its quaint and charming character.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 66 and an average Transit score of 70.

Mount Davidson Manor (Sub-District 4-n) – when the Twin Peaks Tunnel opened in 1918, many enterprising developers grabbed at the opportunity to create new, modern residential communities. Mount Davidson Manor is strongly influenced by Fernando Nelson, a man who built many of San Francisco's subdivisions. Here, one will find many Spanish Mediterranean-style single family residences as well as some newer condominiums and homes to choose from. Several of the neighborhood’s winding streets boast beautiful, hilly views. Residents enjoy their proximity to Ocean Avenue’s commercial strip, which offers all of the everyday conveniences. A Muni streetcar running down Ocean Avenue provides access to downtown or south to the Balboa Park BART station. There are facilities for tennis and baseball, and there is also a new jungle gym. 

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 85 and an average Transit score of 74.

Saint Francis Wood (Sub-District 4-g) - one of San Francisco’s eight residence parks, Saint Francis Wood remains one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods. Inspired by the ideals of the City Beautiful movement, homes in St. Francis Wood are sought after for their views, harmony with the surrounding environment and classical designs. At the time it opened to home buyers, this neighborhood boasted the highest concentration of residences designed by prominent architects of the era, such as Julia Morgan and supervising architect John Galen Howard.

When it comes to pride of ownership, St. Francis Wood residents are in a class by themselves. Today, an active homeowner’s association continues to manage the neighborhood’s affairs including maintenance of its elaborate grounds. Community standards set over a century ago dictated not only quality of life issues but also established a ban on businesses which continues to be the case today. Fortunately, the bustling West Portal neighborhood with all of today’s conveniences is just a few blocks to the north.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 84 and an average Transit score of 78.

Sherwood Forest (Sub-District 4-k) – is a small view neighborhood perched on the southwest slope of Mount Davidson, San Francisco’s highest hill (at 927 feet). Sherwood Forest is patterned around the tale of Robin Hood with street names such as Robinhood (highest residential street in the city), Dalewood and Lansdale.

There are only single-family homes in this small enclave of about 200 homes, some dating back to the 1930s, with many designed by famed architects Julia Morgan, Timothy Pflueger and Harold G. Stoner. From colonials to manor houses, the homes reflect an elegant and serene atmosphere. South of Sherwood Forest lies Westwood Highlands, another small enclave of residences built in the late 1920s with the look and feel of an English village. The Mount Davidson Stairway Walk meanders through a variety of flora and offers views of neighboring West Portal, where shops and restaurants are abound.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 50 and an average Transit score of 70.

Sunnyside (Sub-District 4-s) – the name “Sunnyside” is something of a misnomer - this neighborhood started being developed around 1898 and its original developer, Behrend Joost, was being rather optimistic when he gave his subdivision this name, despite the fact that this area gets its fair share of fog, especially in the summer months.

Sunnyside is a serene medium-sized neighborhood mostly comprising of single family residences, located in close proximity to Glen Park Village and the BART station, with an easy freeway access. This neighborhood is bordered by I-280 to the north, Glen Park to the east, Miraloma Park to the north, and Westwood Park to the west. Sunnyside is home to City Landmark #78, the Sunnyside Conservatory as well as the campus of City College of San Francisco, which attracts much of the traffic in the area. This neighborhood enjoys a variety of recreational options – the nearby Balboa Park offers playing fields, tennis courts, a playground and an indoor swimming pool and the Sunnyside Recreation Center (renovated in 2007) is a popular destination for families with younger children.

A primarily a residential district, Sunnyside is served by a small commercial strip along Monterey Boulevard, however, the proximity of Glen Park neighborhood offers many additional shopping and dining options.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 71 and an average Transit score of 79.

West Portal (Sub-District 4-t) - this primarily residential neighborhood is named after the western terminus of the Muni tunnel beneath Twin Peaks that opened in 1918. Though relatively small in size and exhibiting of what one may describe as a “village atmosphere”, this neighborhood houses many trendy restaurants, grocery stores, gift shops, spas, a historic movie theater and many other businesses. The area’s main corridor, West Portal Avenue, serves as a principal shopping district of southwestern San Francisco.

The residences in West Portal are a lovely mix of mostly single family properties, situated on quiet streets and offering a suburban feel in the center of the city. At the same time, a Muni station, a playground, recreation center as well as a nearby Stern Grove, a 33-acre park that is home to an annual free outdoor concert series, are all within walking distance. Venturing up the hill into Forest Hill Extension rewards with wonderful views of Marin Headlands and the Farallon Islands on a clear day.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 89 and an average Transit score of 78.

Westwood Highlands (Sub-District 4-p) – located just south of Sherwood Forest on the southwest slope of Mount Davidson (San Francisco’s tallest hill at 927 feet), this small picturesque neighborhood, just as its neighbor Sherwood Forest, is patterned around the tale of Robin Hood. Many streets here end with “wood” (Brentwood, Hazelwood, Burlwood), thus justifying neighborhood’s nickname - “the woods.” Marked with obscure wrought iron signs, Westwood Highlands was built in the late 1920s with the look and feel of an English village. Its neighborhood association dates back to 1924 and is one of the earliest planned residential communities in the country. The Mount Davidson Stairway Walk meanders through a variety of flora and offers views of neighboring West Portal, where shops and restaurants are abound.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 64 and an average Transit score of 68.

Westwood Park (Sub-District 4-r) – is a relatively small, charming residential neighborhood full of craftsmen-style bungalows constructed mostly in the early 1920s. The layout of Westwood Park is very distinctive and easily spotted on a map - unlike nearby Ingleside Terrace, which was literally built around a former horse track, the two main oval streets that mark Westwood Park were designed to prevent residents from getting lost on winding roads. The proximity to the nearby Ocean Avenue’s commercial strip offers all of the everyday conveniences and a Muni streetcar provides access to downtown or south to the Balboa Park BART station. This neighborhood is adjacent to both San Francisco City College as well as the Ingleside Branch of the San Francisco Library.

This neighborhood has an average Walk score of 78 and an average Transit score of 75.

The below links provide further details on these neighborhoods and their attractions:

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About Kate

As a long-term resident of San Francisco, Kate is well familiar with the city’s past and present. With her professional background and deep knowledge of the local housing market, Kate is in the position to best assist with your real estate needs. Should you be looking for a recommendation on the upcoming cultural or social events and/or if you need a trusted local real estate advisor, ask Kate – San Francisco is her HOME.

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1801 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

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