Best Residential Block - 2006
The 1000 block of Vallejo isn't just a lovely cul-de-sac lined with trees, lawns, and balustrades; it's a virtual miniretrospective of architect Willis Polk's career. Polk, who designed so many buildings after the 1906 earthquake he was dubbed "the man who rebuilt San Francisco," is best known for the glass-curtain Hallidie Building at 130 Sutter, but his signature brown-shingled houses are scattered across Russian Hill. In fact, Polk built his own home right in this block at number 1013, a handsome six-level castle perched on the cliff where Vallejo plunges into North Beach. Across the street are two cozier Polk-designed brown shingles at 1034 and 1036 as well as four rambling, pastel-hued Mediterranean villas the architect built along intersecting Russian Hill Place. Across the street on either side of Florence Street are two other stucco and wrought iron hideaways, a tiny, lemon-yellow Victorian, and a dazzling beige-and-green Tuscan palazzo abundant with arched portals, sunny verandas, and decorative balconies all gorgeous (if not built by Polk). The block itself is approached by two Polk-designed ornamented ramps that prevent easy vehicular access and give the street an especially secluded ambience.