A New Angle on San Francisco Homes

Only in this roller coaster of a city could locals create such amusing art out of topography and architecture.

Which Way Is Up?

Photo by Ross Pushinaitis Seeing the sights of San Francisco can be a perception-altering experience. 

If they didn't call this place the Fog City, they'd call it the Hill City. The two-door Civic I owned when I got here had a manual transmission, and the clutch failed faster than you can say "Rice-A-Roni." They even have a street sign that I've never seen anywhere else that simply says "HILL." Because otherwise, the uninitiated might worry they had accidentally driven onto an open drawbridge.

It's crazy. Sometimes the sidewalks have stairs carved into them. When I parked my little coupe on California Street to look at an apartment (that only had five feet of headroom, but that's another story), I had the vertiginous sense that we were going to roll together all the way down to the Bay in a smashing, crashing ball of metal.

Locals love to play with this idea. A popular trick-photography meme around these parts is the Tilted Home image: You take a photo of a building on a steep hill, tilting the camera so it's level; the resulting image shows just how crazy the pitch of these buildings are. They look like the Leaning Condos of Pisa.

"It's both more complex and more expensive to build on a hill," says David Kesler, a San Francisco-based architect. "For a hillside home, you need a civil engineering plan that details the topography, a soils report to detail whether there is landslide risk, and extra structural support, depending on how much of the home is buried in the hill."

Nowhere is that more obvious than in this series of photos, taken by Ross Pushinaitis exclusively for FrontDoor.com. Don't they make you want to sing drunken sea shanties?

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