The cows came home a long time ago, but the farmland where they once grazed still bears their name. Contemporary Cow Hollow retains some of its original pastoral character, but you can’t call it rural or rustic. It is one of the most handsome and desirable residential neighborhoods in San Francisco, nestled between The Presidio, the Marina district, Pacific Heights and Russian Hill.

Once known as Spring Valley, this historic area attracted settlers who came to San Francisco in the wake of the Gold Rush. They set up farms and dairies, using the fresh water from streams and a lagoon. But in 1891, the city banished the cows from what by then was called Cow Hollow—purportedly because the bountiful Bovinae had become a health hazard. Residential development took over.

Today, significant and historic homes fill the landscape. Gardens bloom with prolific plantings and trees. Birds sing or—in the case of the wild parrots that wing through the eastern end of The Presidio—squawk overhead. Raccoons raid back yards by night.

The neighborhood is serene and private by urban standards, yet conveniently located near two vibrant and popular commercial enclaves, Union and Chestnut streets. For recreation, there’s The Presidio, Crissy Field and the Marina green. The beloved Cow Hollow Playground is tucked in a near-secret setting off Baker Street. MUNI lines and tech shuttles make transportation a cinch. Access to the Golden Gate Bridge is nearly instant.

Real estate in Cow Hollow earns an A-plus, with homes among the most highly-valued in San Francisco, year in and year out. Watching over all is the very active Cow Hollow Neighborhood Association, a great source of information and advocacy.

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