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Meet The Russ Family, 1022 Stanyan Street’s First Owners

Hoodline, 5/23/151022stanyanyeah

The 4-bedroom, 2,900 square foot Victorian mansion at 1022 Stanyan Street is getting a remodel, so we took a look into its history. The story turns out to include pre-Gold Rush settlers, the development of the Financial District, a prominent local family, and charges of treachery against the government.

1022 Stanyan Street in the1907 Block Book (via SFPL)
Emanuel Charles Christian Russ was a German immigrant who came to prominence after building the city’s first hotel and thirty shacks at the corner of Pine and Montgomery using wooden bunks he purchased from a ship moored in the bay. Nine months after his family’s arrival, gold was discovered in the Sierras. Several of his sons left to seek their fortune, but the elder Russ “remained in the city, knowing there were harvests to be reaped at home, in city real estate,” according to Tales of San Francisco.
After an 1852 fire reduced the Russ House and surrounding shacks to cinders, Russ built the American Hotel on the same location, as well as a family mansion at Sixth and Harrison, south of Market. He quickly became one of the city’s largest landowners and established the Russ Estate Co. Today, the Russ Building stands on the site of the old hotel; built in 1927, the 31-story building claimed to be the tallest edifice west of Chicago for 30 years.
5/1/06, San Francisco Chronicle
According to a 1907 Block Book, the land under 1022 Stanyan was owned by Emanuel’s grandson, Robert R. Russ, a notary and secretary of Russ Estate Co. That year, he and his wife Lottie moved from 3111 24th Street to their new home on Stanyan.
To get to his office at 32 Montgomery, Russ used one of the new streetcar lines that reached Stanyan, but a September 1907 article reported that a gang of pickpockets relieved him of $300 in gold while he rode home on a crowded car. It’s unknown whether the experience put Russ off public transit forever, but in 1909, his wife Lottie posed behind the wheel of their new 1910 Packard Model L for a Chronicle article. According to newspaper accounts, Russ had a sincere need for speed – he was a member of the Bay City Wheelmen cycling club, as well as several automotive societies.
9/5/07, San Francisco Chronicle
As a descendent one of the city’s wealthiest families, Russ’ doings were frequently reported upon: a successful hunting trip with friends to Humboldt County, gala events for private clubs and socialite weddings gave reporters plenty of reasons to spill ink, but in 1919, the Russ name stopped appearing on the Society page and became hard news.
Trading With The Enemy
After World War I ended in November 1918, the US government prosecuted a number of cases involving the conduct of allegedly disloyal Americans, generally for providing aid and comfort to the enemy. On June 18, 1919, Russ turned himself into US Marshals before being indicted “on charges of violating the ‘trading-with-the-enemy’ act,” reported the Chronicle. According to the government, Russ and others used a Swedish intermediary to transmit funds to heirs of his father’s estate back in Germany.
On July 9, Russ entered a plea of not guilty, along with co-defendants C.O. Swanberg, president of the Portola Cafe Company, and Henry W, Westphal, president of the Merchant’s Ice and Cold Storage Co. The trial generated several linear feet of headlines; at one point, Russ’ attorney accused the prosecutor of offering his client immunity if he turned state’s witness against his friends. The prosecutor “vehemently denied that he had made such a statement,” the Chronicle reported.
On February 25, 1920, Russ, Swanberg and Westphal were acquitted of all charges, with the judge ruling that the men acted in good faith to help “suffering relatives who were caught in Germany at the outbreak of the war.” The Chronicle reports the defense entered letters into evidence from Westphal’s German relatives that described “grave danger from starvation” and other bleak conditions facing Russ’s relatives in the old country.
2/26/20, San Francisco Chronicle
The trial didn’t appear to negatively impact Russ’ business or reputation; advertisements and legal notices indicate that he carried on his work at Russ Estate Co. during his trial. After his acquittal, news accounts show that he was active in local cycling and automotive circles, and even wrote the Chronicle to complain about the outcome of a heavyweight boxing match.
Robert R. Russ died on September 28, 1934. According to his death notice in the Chronicle, “his passing severs one of the very few remaining links directly connecting present day San Francisco with the foundation of the city in the days before the discovery of gold in 1849.”

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Meet New Yorker Cover Artist And Cole Valley Local Mark Ulriksen

Hoodline, 3/11/15


Mark Ulriksen is a Cole Valley-based artist whose work has appeared on the cover of The New Yorker 48 times since 1994. Beyond magazines, Ulriksen has created a large body of work for clients such as major ad agencies, publishers, universities, and well as global brands like Nike and United Airlines. His work has been collected by The Smithsonian, Martin Scorcese and Jimmy Buffet, and in 2006, the Magazine Publishers of America awarded him top news magazine cover.

Hoodline recently sat down with Ulriksen to learn more about his career, recent projects and how art and illustration are adapting for digital media.

Is there one magazine cover that you’re most proud of?

“That’s a tough question. I’m still a big fan of a New Yorker cover about society’s obsession with staring at phones, so I’d say this “Capturing the Memories” cover is one of my favorites. But I really don’t have one single choice. Tomorrow I may say something different.”

Courtesy Mark Ulriksen

You’ve worked with magazines for much of your career. Do you perceive more opportunities or fewer for artists since publishers have gone digital?

“Definitely the environment for editorial illustration has changed for the worse for illustrators. There are fewer ad dollars going to periodicals, which means fewer pages and fewer opportunities. Plus photography has always been more prevalent than illustration. The marketplace also seems to favor computer generated images these days as opposed to paintings such as what I do. Like any ephemeral field tastes and fashions come and go, but the digital shakeup is here to stay.”

Similarly, what are your thoughts about 7×7 magazine’s decision to go digital-only?

“Frankly. I wasn’t aware of that development … Good news for trees.”

What do you think of Uber’s recent decision to publish a quarterly magazine for its drivers?

“I’m guessing Uber could use some good press for a change so they’ll create their own. The old dividing line between editorial content driven by publishers versus that created by corporations is constantly being blurred. A magazine for Uber’s drivers sounds more like a company brochure than something aimed at consumers.”

Private commissions seem to comprise a lot of the work you do. How do people find you when it comes to something like a mural or a portrait?

“Private commission requests come from all sorts of places, from folks I know personally to people who are already familiar with my work or have stumbled across it. I’d have to thank Google for a lot of it. Plus in this day and age any artist has to constantly have an online presence so a lot of my time is spent marketing myself, which I really dislike doing.”

What was your first reaction when you learned that you were being awarded top magazine news cover by the Magazine Publishers of America?

“Probably some combination of shock and awe. I didn’t even know of the competition so it was quite a pleasant surprise.”

Of the awards and accolades you’ve received, which one means the most to you?

“Being a regular contributor to The New Yorker means the most to me. There aren’t many places where your work isn’t art directed, is seen by over a million people and is unmarred by cover lines and other text.

Have you created any public art in Cole Valley or San Francisco?

“Nothing for my neighborhood but I was one of three artists annually selected by the SF Arts Commissions Art on Market Street Program, where I had six posters up along Market Street for three months back in late 2013. My series was titled ‘Active San Francisco.'”

How did your last book, Dogs Rule Nonchalantly, come about? 

“I had collected about a hundred-and-some dog pictures I painted over the last 20 years. I laid them all out and thought, ‘How can I tell a story around them?’ I’d done an article for The Atlantic Monthly about 15 years ago about how dogs were so smart, they controlled humans. They get what they want, but they do it in a really nonchalant way.”

Day to day, what are you working on now?

“I’ve got to send out a Kickstarter portrait, just finished it up last night and have to send that off, I have to pick up a print from the printer for a client who bought a bunch of prints, I’m about to send off this painting here (gestures at an oversized New Yorker magazine cover).

“This was a request by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist. He wanted to have this seven feet high, but my original painting for the New Yorker was 12 by 16 [inches], so I said, ‘You can’t blow up that painting to seven feet, it’ll look terrible. I need to do a new painting for you, bigger. I’ve already done a 7-foot-high canvas print from this painting.”

Mark Ulriksen’s latest book, Dogs Rule Nonchalantly, is available online and in stores. For more information, visit Mark’s Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

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What It Takes To Buy A House In The Inner Sunset

Hoodline, 3/6/15


Flickr/Shawn Calhoun

The Inner Sunset has grown in prominence as a hot San Francisco real estate market, and we caught up with Ilana Minkoffa Realtor with Vanguard Properties, to learn more. Although she helps clients buy and sell across the city, Minkoff shared insights into the unique challenges of purchasing real estate right here in the Inner Sunset.

What’s the most notable change to the Inner Sunset’s real estate market that you’ve observed in recent years?

“What used to be a fairly under-the-radar neighborhood has become a recently discovered gem. It has a laid back, unpretentious family feel. And being so transit and bike friendly, it’s become a great alternative to more pricey neighborhoods. As with the rest of San Francisco, inventory in the Inner Sunset is very low, so with such high demand, prices are on the rise.”

Photo: Walter Thompson/Hoodline

How many homes have been listed for sale in the Inner Sunset in the last 12 months?

“In the last 12 months, 67 properties, including single-family homes, condominiums and tenancies-in-common, have sold according to the MLS. As of March 3rd there were only three active listings on the MLS. That being said, about one-third of the properties are sold ‘off-market’ which means they are never put on the MLS. This is happening citywide. Working with a good Realtor is key to finding ‘off-market’ properties.”

Flickr/Mark Hogan

In your experience, what’s the biggest surprise for first-time homebuyers in San Francisco?

“I’m constantly reminding my buyers to stay positive. Competition can be fierce. I always tell my buyers it’s normal to write 3-4 offers before one is accepted. Then if they get one accepted faster, they’re thrilled. Buyers often don’t believe that a property will sell so far over the list price until they see it with their own two eyes. So my job is to set expectations and get them prepared for the journey so they avoid getting discouraged.

“As a seasoned Realtor who’s worked with plenty of first-time buyers, I educate them on the buying process before they start shopping. They should follow the market, go to open houses and track properties for a few months before jumping in to make offers. That way it’s not shocking when we have to go 20 percent or more over the list price on an offer. I remind them interest rates are still really low, so now really is a great time to buy. Home buying in this market really is more of a marathon than a sprint.”

Is there a specific type of person or demographic that’s moving to the Inner Sunset? What do they do for a living?

“One of the really special things about the Inner Sunset is the diversity of the population. A wide variety of people are moving here. Many are young families who want an easier lifestyle, parking, a yard and to be able to take the kids to the park are drawn here. Of course there is a considerable amount of money coming in from the tech sector citywide, and that is also the case here. Proximity to UCSF is also a draw for their staff. The largest age range in the 94122 area code is the 21-34 year olds with a median income of $81,000 (according to”


Anecdotally, what draws prospective buyers to the Inner Sunset?

“A lot of people are drawn to the Inner Sunset because they’re looking for a mellow, laid-back, transit-friendly, affordable area of town. They love the being close to Golden Gate Park and how easy it is to get to the beach. The housing prices are still quite a bit lower than other areas, making it more affordable than more eastern neighborhoods. And you can often get far more space for your dollar than other parts of town. The wide variety of great restaurants, the Sunday Farmer’s Market and shopping around 9th and Irving is definitely a draw as well. And because it’s relatively flat, you can leave your car at home, take a nice walk and enjoy everything the Inner Sunset has to offer.”

What advice, if any, do you have for renters who are seeking to become homeowners?

“Start planning early. Have a goal. It’s never too soon to meet with a financial planner or lender to make a plan. Whether you are starting at the very beginning with saving for your down payment or getting close to go time, get a plan.”

How large of a down payment will someone need (ballpark)?

“The general rule of thumb is 20 percent of the purchase price.”

Would you ever counsel someone against his or her first choice of property? If so, why?

“Of course. I frequently equate buying a home to dating, because it’s something everyone gets. Sometimes you go out on a first date and you are absolutely sure that person is the one you are going to spend the rest of your life with. You think they are perfect! But as we all know, you can be so blinded by lust you can’t see their faults. My job is to be that gentle friend that reminds you to really look at their qualities, good and bad before putting a ring on it.”

Do you have stories about house-hunting in the Inner Sunset? Let us know in the comments.

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