So named for the fact that it was used as grazing lands for the City's dairy cows up until the 1860's. In the 1950's, the area became fashionable, and the chic boutiques, antique shops and art galleries took over the old neighborhood shops. These shops, many of which are in restored 19th century buildings, create a movie-set environment.
I highly recommend a book by the name Stairway Walks in San Francisco, by Adah Bakalinsky. In it, she rates San Francisco's 350-plus stairways on a scale of 1-5.
There is an underground stream that feeds a small pond in the courtyard of St. Mary's Church at the corner of Union and Steiner.
The Italians once "raced" huge rounds of cheese downhill on Fillmore Street through this area. What a scene that must have been!