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In a shop on Union Street


A shop window on Union Street

In a Nutshell...

Cow Hollow is the neighborhood on the flats at the northern base of Pacific Heights. While not as tony as wealthy Pacific Heights, it is known for its fine dining, trendy boutiques, jewelry galleries, sidewalk cafes, coffee houses and vibrant night life. Union Street is Cow Hollow's shopping street, with the fashionable shops and restaurants being on the six blocks between Gough and Stiner Streets.


Shop doors on Union Street


For many years now on Easter Sunday, the Union Street's business owners sponsor the Annual Spring Celebration and Easter Parade, which they like to call the biggest little parade in San Francisco. There are many attractions for kids and, of course, the parade which always has a San Francisco twist to it. Just what do I mean by that? You'll have to go there yourself and see.


Every year on a June weekend, the area hosts the popular Union Street Festival. The street is closed to traffic and is filled with arts and crafts booths. This being in San Francisco, there are also Green booths where the public can learn the latest in green tech. Admission is free and details are at UnionStreetFestival.com.


Inside an antique shop on Union Street in Cow Hollow


In keeping with the rest of the city, the parking situation near the Union Street shops is insane. Parking is metered on Union Street. Even so, it is rare to see an empty space. There are very pricey parking garages at 1932 and 2001 Union Street. There is free street parking on the streets surrounding Union Street. It is usually easier to find a space as one goes south from Union Street rather than on the streets to the North. This is because the housing density is much higher as one goes north. Not only are there more residents using up the street's spaces, but much of where there should be spaces is taken up with driveways.


View Union Street Shopping in a larger map



On Union Street



Some Cow Hollow highlights...

The Octagon House

The Octagon House in Cow Hollow


On the corner of Gough and Union Streets you will see this eight sided oddity standing out among its four sided neighbors. It was built in 1861, but not where it stands today. It was acquired by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in California and moved for safe keeping to its current location in 1953. It serves as a small museum with mostly Early American decorative arts and documents. Admission is free, but the hours are a little strange being from noon to 3:00 pm on the second Sunday and the second and fourth Thursdays of each month except January. It just might be a good idea to call first - (415) 441-7512.


Vedanta Temple

The Vedanta Temple


It is hard to walk down Union Street and not notice this architectural oddity on the corner of Webster and Filbert Streets. We are all taught it is not polite to stare, but if they didn't want you to, why would they have put an Indian veranda on top of a conventional early 20th Century San Francisco house and capped it off with five towers, each drawing from wildly different styles? So go ahead and gawk. Although it may remind one of turn of the (last) century seaside carnival architecture, it is actually a Vedantic temple - the first hindu temple in the Americas, still in use as a monastery. It was designed by an Indian Swami and opened for the faithful in 1906.


Sadly, the message of peace that the Swami had hoped to spread was not taken to heart by everyone who heard it. In 1915 one of his students threw a bomb at him during a religious lecture the Swami was giving in this building, killing both the Swami and the student.


Church of St. Mary the Virgin

St. Mary's Church in Cow Hollow


At the western end of Union Street's commercial strip, on the corner of Stiner and Union, sits this 1891 Episcopal church. There were additions made to it in 1934 and 1952, but they keep true to its Arts and Crafts style and its humble character. There is a natural spring, still running, on the property that once quenched the thirst of the beasts who's memory has been preserved in the neighborhood's name.


Allyne Park

Allyne Park


This small neighborhood park is next to the Octagon House on Gough Street, just a few steps off of Union Street. It is a charming oasis waiting for those who want to take a few moments to escape from the bustle of the city.




bottem of the shadow


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