On Location: "Pacific Heights" in Potrero Hill


Welcome to "On Location," a micro-feature taking you to little-known cinematic locations of SF and taking a look at the films shot in the city by the bay over the years.

"It seemed like the perfect house. He seemed like the perfect tenant. Until they asked him to leave." So goes the tagline for John Schlesinger's rote 1990 thriller Pacific Heights, in which Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith are a young couple who close escrow on the perfect fixer-upper in the luxe neighborhood. As they always do in these sorts of affairs, their dreams turn into nightmares when Michael Keaton moves in to a portion of the house and promptly changes the locks, begins breeding cockroaches and generally terrorizes his new landlords from below.

With a plot that had been written one hundred times over by the time it was released (to lukewarm reviews), Pacific Heights has little to offer save its hilariously sinister look at the very San Franciscan issue of tenants rights and a particularly evil turn by Michael Keaton the tenant-from-hell. Luckily the real-life address fares a bit better. These days, the sunshine-hued Victorian stronghold at 19th and Texas that stood in for the drab money pit of the title (allegedly at '275 Pacific Street') does seem like the perfect house, lording over the city from one of its highest residential vistas. Chosen at the time because of the relative cheapness of the Potrero as a filming location, the property value of 1243 19th now approaches a rate rivaling some Pacific Heights addresses.

Those not ready for a long, pleasant hike up 19th street may want to skip a pilgrimage to the hilltop  address, but interested parties will be rewarded with magnificent views of the city in all directions and the charm of one of the city's less frequented corners. Also in proximity are an adorable garage-turned-flowershop, Flor De Lis, and salsa mecca Cafe Cocomo, just a short trip down the hill. A weekend visit could be just what us sun-starved citizens of the city's other half need!