The area of San Francisco now known as Cow Hollow was so named because it was where settlers in the mid-1800s established dairy farms, attracted by the natural fresh water sources and good grazing land for cows.
Known then as Spring Valley, it was a verdant area of meadows, natural springs, and sand hills, which by the 1880s sustained over 30 dairies supplying milk to San Francisco’s burgeoning population. By then, the name Cow Hollow was in widespread use.
San Francisco’s continued growth and changing demographics eventually drove the dairies, and their cows, out of the city, and the area was substantially redeveloped for residential use. Today, the Cow Hollow neighborhood is bounded by Lombard Street, Van Ness Avenue, Green Street, and The Presidio, and some of the original dairy farmhouses still stand among the area’s houses, shops and restaurants.