Nob Hill

Nob Hill

Nob Hill, or “Snob Hill,“ as it has been derisively called, is the prestigious location of the former mansions of the most powerful and influential men of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their castles looked down on the rest of San Francisco until the 1906 earthquake and fire leveled them. Today, this is the location of the grand old hotels of San Francisco where average people can sleep in luxurious comfort in the style of the old railroad barons and bonanza kings.

Beautiful Grace Cathedral, a replica of Notre Dame in Paris, is an imposing sight in Nob Hill. The biggest Episcopal cathedral on the West Coast overlooks Huntington Park, land donated by the widow of railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington. The lovely park sits on land that was once the Huntington mansion, destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The focal point of the park is the splendid Fountain of the Tortoises, a replica of a Roman fountain with nymphs and sea turtles. Usually lit by underwater lamps, just recently the fountain was fully lit for the first time in fifty years.

For an education on the history of the cable car, the San Francisco Cable Car Museum, open to the public, is located in the big brick cable car barn at 1201 Mason Street. The free museum, with gift shop, is a fascinating look at the world’s only operating cable car system.

The grand hotels located on Nob Hill include the Mark Hopkins and its legendary bar, Top of the Mark. This has been the ultimate spot since 1939 to celebrate and to see and be-seen in San Francisco. The 360 degree views are spectacular from the 19th floor sky lounge, the highest point in San Francisco, where soldiers traditionally had a farewell drink before shipping out during World War II.

An area is emerging where the Tenderloin is beginning to expand and overlap Nob Hill. This is the “Tendernob,” where development is revitalizing what used to be a squalid, rundown part of the city.