Cole Valley is one of the smallest neighborhood in San Francisco. Bordering Golden Gate Park, the Castro, Haight-Ashbury, and Twin Peaks, it’s a quiet little gem with a ton of character. Despite being often overlooked by tourists and locals alike, the beauty of Cole Valley real estate, and the neighborhood itself, make for one of the very best spots in the city.
As with the rest of the city, Cole Valley is rich with history. With its relatively slow pace, that history is even more visible in Cole Valley, if one knows where to look.
It All Begins with a Pond
The valley used to have a pond, right in the middle. The area around this pond was largely given to farmland. Cole Valley has a relatively temperate microclimate, with neither extreme highs nor lows, and some, but not too much, fog from the bay. Those trends are remarkably consistent from April to late November, making for a longer farming season and rich soil.
Cole Valley was a tempting place to live, and Cole Valley real estate was in relatively high demand, but it was prohibitively far from the city center, and residents began to agitate for a solution.
The N Judah Light Rail
Through the early 1920s, residents lobbied for a new streetcar service to what were then considered the “Outside Lands” including Cole Valley. There were rather roundabout transit lines, but a direct route was called for. In 1925, work began on the Duboce Tunnel route. Today, those lines are still in service, and the N-Judah light rail train still stops right in the heart of Cole Valley’s business district.
In 1928, the Sunset Tunnel, at Carl and Cole, was opened and Cole Valley real estate skyrocketed in demand. The tunnel, just under a mile long (4,232 feet) was a massive construction project, and was recently the recipient of $23.3 million worth of seismic retrofits and renovations. However, the original superstructure remains.
Reclaiming Sutro Forest
Another recent reclamation and renovation project was undertaken throughout Sutro Forest. Most locals would agree that the forest is part of Cole Valley, rather than adjacent to it, but in either case, prime Cole Valley real estate borders more than 80 acres of ethereal wilderness space and hiking trails. The space was developed over a century ago, when the somewhat eccentric mayor, Adolf Sutro, planted a variety of non-native foliage, first at the horse stables at Stanyan Street, and eventually over much of the adjoining 900-foot hill.
Not all of that exotic foliage was for the best. The iconic eucalyptus trees fared well, but the ivy fared better. It has been generously described as “lush” but in practical terms, it and the blackberry brambles were suffocating the local flora.
The reclamation efforts began in earnest in the early 2000s, cutting back the more invasive species and local plants, some of which hadn’t been seen in the area since the 1950s, began to return in earnest.
The Stone Circle’s Secret
This is perhaps the subtlest secret in Cole Valley. Thousands of people will walk past each day, but few will stop to look. At the corner of Frederick and Shrader, there is a semicircle of cobblestones set into the pavement. They go unmarked, and there is no plaque to identify them, but there was a time when they served a vital purpose.
The complete circle, about 30 feet across, once marked one of the SFPD’s emergency water cisterns scattered throughout the city. These stones mark a cistern which dates back to 1908. Built in reinforced concrete, this subterranean monolith would hold about 75,000 gallons. Indeed these cisterns are still in use, though modern ones are demarcated in brick rather than cobblestone, but in instances where the hydrants are unusable (like after the lines were damaged in a quake, say) the cisterns can make all the difference.
A Few Famous Faces and the Dot Com Bubble
There used to be a comedy club called “The Other Café” at the corner of Cole and Carl. It began as a pharmacy in the late seventies, but found better success as a comedy club and occasional music venue. Over the course of a decade, it played host to a few big names, though they were up-and-comers at the time. Those included Whoopi Goldberg, Dana Carvey, Paula Poundstone, and Robin Williams, among many illustrious others.
The Other Café is gone now, but you can still see the sign, tucked in above Crepes on Cole.
Cole Valley Real Estate for Sale
Cole Valley real estate is in high demand. The neighborhood is a haven for working professionals, history buffs, young families, coffee aficionados, dog walkers, and anyone else looking for a bit of serenity away from the urban bustle. Really, Cole Valley real estate has always been in demand, right from the very first farms, and it only increased in value after the opening of the N Judah.
It’s a great little neighborhood, and it might just be perfect for you. If you’re in the San Francisco real estate market, reach out and call Danielle Lazier + Associates and let us hand you the keys to your Cole Valley dream home!