7.2 out of 10

Lone Mountain

Ranked 53rd best neighborhood in San Francisco
37.7783460316646 -122.452811410122
Great for
  • Medical Facilities
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Internet Access
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Schools
Not great for
  • Parking
  • Eating Out
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping Options
  • Cost of Living
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian

Reviews

5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+
Editors Choice

"What the Jesuits Have Wrought"

Twin monuments to Jesuit faith and education stand but a few blocks apart in San Francisco. One, a massive church that looks as if might have been moved here from a Roman square, sits near the northeastern edge of Golden Gate Park. The other, a neo-Gothic/Mediterranean monolith with an imposing tower, rises above a campus situated on a hill misnamed Lone Mountain (it is actually about 450 feet high, more “mount” than “mountain”). Together, St. Ignatius and the University of San Francisco form a kind of village, being the spiritual and intellectual hubs of a neighborhood that comes as close as it gets to the look and feel of a traditional private-college town in San Francisco. Here, the Jesuits have held sway for the better part of the 20th century and into the 21st, with a classical liberalism at once embraced by the city and at times scorned by the Catholic Church of which it is so intrinsically a part.

Not that Lone Mountain’s link to one religion has rendered it an isolated area. For decades it was a burial ground, home from the mid-18th century on to at least three distinct cemeteries—Odd Fellows, Calvary, and Masonic, the graves of which were relocated south, to the town of Colma on the Peninsula, after the city enacted a law prohibiting burials within San Francisco’s municipal boundaries. Such a restriction enabled both the Catholic church and college (then both known as St. Ignatius) to relocate to the hilltop after settling in various locations of central San Francisco, the church in 1914 and the college (now university) in 1927. Since then, they have both exercised a decidedly benevolent hand on the area, making it one of San Francisco’s most desirable neighborhoods.

Today, Lone Mountain is a clean, well-ordered place, its streets (a number called “terraces”) lined with tidy homes and apartment buildings, many of them inhabited by university students and faculty. San Francisco University (with almost 9,000 students and 500 staff) should not be confused with the nearby University of California at San Francisco (the state university system’s school of medicine) or San Francisco State (one of the state college system’s liberal-arts universities, located near Lake Merced, in the city’s southwest quadrant). SFU, as it is known, is a private liberal-arts university run by the Jesuits (or Society of Jesus, as they are known in Catholic circles), with respectable schools of business, law, nursing, and education. Its main buildings are arrayed on two campuses (one a former women’s college—Lone Mountain College) a few blocks apart. Though the main campus is on Fulton Street, the other, the former women’s college that is now called the Lone Mountain Campus, is on Turk, and most people now think of this as the university proper, though it’s really just a northern extension of it.

St. Ignatius Church lies on the southwestern edge of both the main campus and the neighborhood, at Fulton and Parker, and it serves both the university and surrounding community. Because its spires rise 200 feet above the street on a fairly elevated block that can be seen from many points in the city, many mistake this church as San Francisco’s Catholic cathedral (which it is not; St. Mary’s—the modern, white marble structure on Geary and Gough, whose unusual shape prompted newspaper columnist Herb Caen to call it “Our Lady of Maytag”—claims the title). Nevertheless, St. Ignatius, designed by architect Charles J. I. Devlin in 1909, is a marvelous example of Italian Renaissance/Baroque architecture (though the numerous ornamental elements it incorporates have prompted many observers to call it “eclectic” or “Jesuit Baroque” and leave it at that). Still, the church has a traditional cruciform nave and semicircular sanctuary (the dome of the exterior being decorative, and not carried forth on the interior). A Venetian-style campanile abuts the church’s northeast side, from which the original St. Ignatius Church bell (purchased in 1863) peals at noon and 6 p.m. daily. Lit at night, the main towers can be observed from as far away as the Golden Gate Bridge.

Across Parker from St. Ignatius is a Carmelite Monastery—essentially, it’s a cloister for nuns, with a hushed and lovely chapel open at certain hours to the public for prayers and meditation in an exquisite neo-classical sanctuary.

The neighborhood, though made up of a changing population of students, faculty, and longtime residents, is fairly diverse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 10,000 residents of the area are 60 percent white, 20 percent Asian, 10 percent African American, and the remainder of two or mixed races. Though they are all solidly middle class (with a median annual household income of $65,000), only a little more than 25 percent own their homes.

The main attraction here is the university, with its many halls, classroom buildings, student housing complexes, and related structures, so don’t expect to find a commercial district teeming with shops and businesses. The stretch of Geary Boulevard on the neighborhood’s northern perimeter is pretty much what there is: it has a number of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, services, and a post office, though it feels apart from the neighborhood, mostly because it lies geographically at the base of Lone Mountain. The area also lacks a park per se, though green space abounds (especially the artistically landscaped Lone Mountain campus) and Golden Gate Park lies literally at the entrance to the neighborhood. Koret Health and Recreation Center (on Stanyan and Turk) is open to both USF students and residents of the neighborhood.

Public transportation is by bus, with Muni buses Nos. 31 and 5 running along Turk and Fulton, respectively, and the No. 43 running up and down Masonic Avenue on its way to points east and west. Because of the number of day students who drive to the area to attend classes, and also because of St. Mary’s Medical Center, which fronts Fulton Street, parking can be difficult during business hours during the week. Residential parking permits “BB” and “L” are issued for this neighborhood so locals can shun the hourly parking limits.

Because of the predominant influence of the university, with all of its buildings and dedicated housing, there is no room for public schools. Parents can send their kids to any number of preschools, elementary schools, and middle schools in the surrounding area, including the private Marin Day Preschool in Laurel Heights (off California Street), as well as the public alternative elementary, New Traditions (on Grove Street), which rated 6 out of 10 by GreatSchools, and Roosevelt Middle School on Arguello and Geary. This award-winning school in an impressive red-brick building with three-story tower was rated 9 out of 10 by GreatSchools.

Crime in the area, according to San Francisco Police Department figures, is generally confined to noise nuisances such as car alarms and rowdy revelers, with an occasional robbery, burglary, and assault in any three-month period. Car theft and auto break-ins, however, are becoming more commonplace, in line with an upward trend throughout the city. Though the neighborhood is rarely the scene of violent crime, a double homicide in 2008 shocked the residents of this generally tranquil enclave; police investigators are still searching for a suspect and motive.

Real estate here is expensive, even as the neighborhood struggles to recover from the recent economic downturn. The other element is that because USF owns many of the properties adjacent to its campuses, there is not a big selection available. The median sales price of single-family homes is about 17 percent below where it stood before the recent downturn, according to Trulia, and sales have lagged even at the lower prices. Much of the available properties are condos, with three bedrooms/one bathroom going for close to $1 million and modest one bedroom, one bathroom units in the mid-$600,000 range. Apartments are reasonable (and large, in terms of square footage): a one-bedroom/one-bath apartment on Fulton recently listed for $1,300, while a five-bedroom, three-bath apartment with 2,000 square feet listed for $5,150 a month.

The quiet, buttoned-down feel of the neighborhood reflects the sedate university. This is a good area for students as well as couples getting through a graduate program. Longtime families and even retirees will also find the place a tranquil district, worth living in for its proximity to major attractions of the city while affording a peaceful refuge from what ails San Francisco in other grittier neighborhoods.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"Prices only Future Corporate Lawyers Could Afford"

Lone Mountain is another neighborhood that I didn’t really realize was a neighborhood. This is basically the home of the USF law school, so watch out who you get mad around here. They could probably tie you up in court for years on end. This, I suppose, is where they train patent lawyers on how to get start-ups to pay extortion money on their intellectual property. Okay, I will restrain myself from a few dark spirited lawyer jokes.
In terms of the neighborhood, it is really mostly the law buildings.
The residential area is really quite nice with lots of modern and Spanish architecture. Most of the homes have first floor garages—which is a nice feature in an area where you get a lot of auto break-ins. You are just above the Pan Handle so you can go for morning jogs or little weekend picnics. There are lots of youngish law students around during the day and you are close to restaurants and bars—the Haight is just to the south of the Pan Handle.
Overall this would be a nice place to live if it were not for the prices. Apparently having the law schools and hospitals nearby makes higher rents possible. I am seeing studios here going for $1400 and 2-br for $3800. Yikes!
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Close to USF Law School
  • Close to Golden Gate Park
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Not Much of a View
  • Crime Spillover from Haight
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"Definitely a lone mountain"

I will honestly say that I’ve never heard of the Lone Mountain, but have always ridden my bike through this neighborhood quite often to school. It is quite strange for a San Franciscan to not know their neighborhoods, especially when they (or I) frequently pass through it. Anyways, University of San Francisco and its Lone Mountain Campus lie in this neighborhood. There is definitely a big college feel or vibe, as not only San Franciscans attend this university, but also people from all over California. Although this university may not be as big as say San Francisco State University, University of San Francisco is very college-trendy. There are many things great about Lone Mountain, as there are several parks nearby, as well as the number of restaurants and local markets on Geary Boulevard. There are even two shopping centers very close to Lone Mountain. You have one on Masonic Avenue and Geary Boulevard and one on Laural Heights on California Avenue. Whenever I passed by Lone Mountain while heading towards school, I always found it strange how the apartments on Anza Street looked like college apartments, and not long ago did I realize that those apartments were for USF students. But living in Lone Mountain would be great, a little quiet place for those who’d enjoy it.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
2yrs+

"Lots of schools for kids and adults alike"

Lone Mountain is in a great hilly location. It is located between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio of San Francisco. This means you have great access to parks. You are also right on top of the Lone Mountain Campus of the University of San Francisco. If you are a student or faculty, you would find this part of town perfectly convenient. This part of town used to be home to a few cemeteries including the Masonic Cemetery, and the Greek Orthodox Cemetery, so leave your fear of ghosts at the door!

Another great feature of this neighborhood is the Lone Mountain Children’s Center. This is a school that has a unique, focus for kids and seeks to integrate some nontraditional learning approaches. For example, kids are taught a special form of sign language. This district also includes Rossi Playground. Rossi really is a great playground that is in excellent shape. The park has a pool, tennis as well as pretty nice playground equipment.

According to City Data, the average income for Lone Mountain is about average for San Francisco residents.
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
3/5
2yrs+

"A park for the kids"

Lone Mountain is home to the University of San Francisco and holds a lot of great property with a great college vibe. The homes in this neighborhood are very typical of the early 1900s San Francisco architecture. I once looked for a house in this neighborhood but decided it didn’t meet our needs, as we were looking for something a little more family friendly.

If you travel high enough up the mountain, the views are spectacular on a clear day.

Lone Mountain does have a great playground that supplies all your outdoor sports activities. The Angelo J. Rossi Playground located at the corner of Arguello Boulevard and Anza Street is a 6.5-acre park. The park features ball fields, basketball courts, swimming pool, tennis courts, picnic areas, and a children’s play area. The park is very popular among the Golden Gate Mother’s Group.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5
2yrs+

"Can You See the Church?"

I've lived in San Francisco since 1996. One site that has persisted in all these years that is visible from so many places in the north west side of San Francisco is the church right around Parker and Fulton. It is especially lovely when lit up at night, especially as you're cresting a hill and unexpectedly see it.

You can see the church from Twin Peaks, when you ride down Masonic from the top of it and from various points around the area. It's a beautiful landmark.

For those who are athletic and outdoorsy, enjoy Ross Playground and which offers park activities for various sports.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids

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Best Streets in Lone Mountain

1

Golden Gate Ave

3.5/5
"Kittredge Terrace"
37.7763045035798 -122.457584001418
2

Almaden Ct

3.5/5
"A small street in peaceful neighborhood."
37.7800990111949 -122.457868774025

Unranked Streets in Lone Mountain

Edward St

3.5/5
"A great street next to the park"
37.7781344186932 -122.457611157879

Chabot Ter

3.5/5
"Chabot Terrace"
37.7775710000446 -122.451444499368

Collins St

2.5/5
"A suburban neighborhood"
37.7814345000829 -122.449954498723

Ewing Ter

3.5/5
"Beautiful and Peaceful"
37.7800560009714 -122.448182784963

Loraine Ct

3.5/5
"A very peaceful and quiet street"
37.779922000022 -122.456942999681

Parker Ave

2.5/5
"Quiet suburban neighborhood"
37.7787745064102 -122.453610813366

Parsons St

2.5/5
"Parsons: A short street"
37.7751490000359 -122.455346999415

Temescal Ter

3.5/5
"Temescal Terrace"
37.7774580000378 -122.452332499353

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