It was this building that drew me to Nob Hill and its grand exterior accurately reflects the interior. This is one of the finest places to stay in San Francisco, if you can afford it.
Olde Worlde elegance, quality service plus some of San Francisco's finest views make this a special establishment.
If you can't afford $300 per night then start looking elsewhere.
Fondest memory: Interestingly, the vision of a couple of locals, Tessie and Virginia Fair, led to this wonderful edifice and it opened the year after the great quake of 1906. This was the original Fairmont Hotel.
They were the daughters of James Fair and the opulent beaux-arts building was destroyed by the 1906 fire just two days after it was completed. It was fortunately soon rebuilt
On this site in 1872, General David D. Colton, a railroad attorney, built one of the most elaborate residences ever seen in San Francisco. The classic white wooden mansion featured an entry flight of marble steps leading to a great portico of Corinthian columns. General Colton, his wife, and their two daughters entertained in the mansion with style and splendor. General Colton died in 1878 and shortly thereafter his widow, Ellen, closed the house and moved to Washington D.C.
In 1892, Central Pacific railroad baron Collis P. Huntington purchased the house where he lived with his wife, Arabella, until the time of his death in 1900. Mrs. Huntington occupied the grand mansion until its destruction in the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. In 1915, Mrs. Huntington donated the land to the City of San Francisco to remain in perpetuity as a park for all the people of the City to enjoy.
Beginning in the late 1970s, the park became a continuing restoration and preservation project of the Nob Hill Association in cooperation with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.
Fondest memory: I think the sense of community that prevailed wherever we went in America was reflected in this park. Because the community care about it you don't see the vandalism prevalent in certain places in Australia.
The Flood Fountain, donated by Mr. and Mrs. James Flood, was something that caught my eye, along with the Fountain of the Tortoises.
Originally I thought the former fountain must have been named after the biblical flood but, no, it seems I was in error.
There's a small playground for children and tennis courts here as well as the lovely manicured lawns. A lovely place to tarry awhile.
The best neighborhood to stay in is a difficult. Each San Francisco neighborhood really has it's own personality.
1. Telegraph Hill. If you want a neighborhood that is really walkable, I would suggest Telegraph Hill. This is the most historic neighborhood in the city. The historic homes are nice and the neighborhood is very safe. It provides plenty of good restaurants, bars and shops. It is also very close to North Beach(#2). Broadway has a lot of nightclubs on the weekends. The problem with this area is there are no real major hotels except at the very touristy Fisherman's Wharf area. Your best bet is either a B&B or a vacation rental. Ginsburg and Kerouac used to stay in a flat on Montgomery street. Don't forget about the wild parrots that sing in the streets.
2. North Beach is the historic Italian neighborhood. Plenty of good restaurants, bars and boutiques. Everything is walkable. This is DiMaggio's old neighborhood.
3. Russian Hill - Not as close to downtown as North Beach but nice.
4. Hayes Valley - Not walking distance to the Financial District but it's a nice little oasis in the city.
If you are GLBT friendly, the Castro is the obvious choice. However, the whole city is tolerant and open minded.
The Haight is a nice neighborhood but it's far from downtown and requires a car. It also has a strong hippie aspect.
The vrbo's seem to be a great value compared to the Tenderloin and Union Square hotels you trip over bums to get to.
Fondest memory: Mocha's from Bittersweet, Crustacean Crab, House of Prime Rib, Kara's Cupcakes, Blue Bottle, Mama's
Locals may snicker but for the last couple of years I have unsuccessfully been stalking the "wild parrots of telegraph hill" on every trip to San Francisco, climbing the Greenwich steps to Coit tower listening for them, but with no luck.
I was walking a couple of blocks from my hotel through what I think is called Ferry park on Drumm & Clay sts, when I heard screeching.
Looking up ~ 50 ft. near the top of the trees, there they were: nowhere near Telegraph Hill.
Sorry about the poor quality of the picture but the light was terrible (it was almost dusk) and they were so high up even the zoom & telefoto on my camera couldn't get enough close light for detail.
(I wish you could have heard them... it must have been parrot "cocktail hour"...)
Fondest memory: But here's the good news.
The only reason I knew the parrots existed, and one of my favorite SF sites over the years has been Hank Donat's "MisterSF" website.
To see the parrots as they should be seen, just click below:
Hank Donat's MISTER SF site
& enjoy one of my favorite San Francisco websites. Say "hi" to Hank for me, he is good people, he cares, and imho is potentially the next Herb Caen.
If you find the SF parrots as fascinating as I do, click below to learn everything about them from their best friend, Mark Bittner.
Mark Bittner's Pages
The documentary film about the Parrots has finally been released, and it is wonderful.
Here is a taste: Ebert Review: Wild Parrots
and here is the website Wild Parrots with all the info, a trailer, and where it is playing in your town.
The Wild Parrots DVD is now available for everybody. Peace Conner, wherever you are.
Washington Square is in the center of the great Little Italy neighborhood called North Beach. The grassy one-block square is lined by cafes, restaurants, and the grand Saints Peter and Paul Church. It is located on the center of the Columbus Ave, one of the main streets between Fishermans Wharf and Chinatown, and the square is right between Lombard Street and Coit Tower.
The park has a firemen's memorial, Ben Franklin Statue, a time capsule, and a children's playground, but it is really a refuge for local dog owners, bums, hippies, kids, sun bathers, occasional naked bums, and people who just want to relax and read the paper.
In 2005 the Project for Public Spaces named Washington Square the 9th best public square in America and Canada.
Favorite thing: Much like many of the old world cities in Europe, the streets of San Francisco are full of corner mini markets that are built right into the neighborhood. The offer inexpensive drinks and many of them have deli's that will make you a fresh sandwich for about $5.99 So if your exploring S.F. on foot keep an eye out for this mini markets and treat yourself to a inexpensive snack or lunch!
From Lincoln Park, you may notice a stubby white and red striped tube sticking up from the water about a half mile in the distance to the north. During my visit I couldn't figure out if this was part of an old sunken ship or some other oddity of the sea. After some research I discovered this is part of Mile Rocks Lighthouse, and it was constructed at the turn of the century to warn sailors of the dangerous rocks a the southern entrance to the Golden Gate and the San Francisco Bay.
The lighthouse was built on Mile Rock which, along with Little Mile Rock were known as Mile Rocks. Mile Rock is just 30 x 40 feet and had to be blasted to form a flat foundation for the lighthouse. The first section of the lighthouse, a 35-foot tall concrete pillar with four foot thick walls forms the base. Above this concrete section there were three steel rings each slighter smaller than the one below it, all capped by the lantern area. In 1966 the Coast Guard removed the lantern section and the top two steel rings, leaving just the concrete base and the first steel ring capped with a helicopter landing pad.
If you go to the Embarcadero BART Station (Bay Area Rapid Transportation system, SF's underground train), walk to the end of market towards the Ferry building and turn left. From there, enjoy a nice walk along the Embarcadero. In the background in this picture, which I took today, after the giants game, is the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge.
Fondest memory: I've lived in San Francisco all my life. But I'd say being in Candlestick Park when Joe Montana threw that touchdown pass to Dwight Clark to beat the Dallas Cowboys 28-27, with 51 seconds on the clock.
Get yourself to the base of Telegraph Hill (try taking the F Market to Greenwich and the Embarcadero). Psyche yourself up for the climb by the tranquil gardens and waterfalls of Levis Plaza. Then head toward Telegraph Hill, via Filbert Street. Filbert dead-ends into a long stairway built into the side of a cliff. Take it.
If you are here in August, grab some wild blackberries draped over the railings. Mind the thorns.
Climbing this stairway, known as the Filbert steps, is one of the best ways to truly know San Francisco. As you ascend, the stairs become rickety and wooden, the gardens on either side amazingly lush, the cottages too quaint for words. The gardens were tended for years by Grace Marchant, a neighbor who had so much love to give the City and somewhere to give it. The homes on lanes like Napier and Darrell are among the oldest in the city.
Don't apologize for needing to break and catch you breath. The views behind you as you climb demand your attention.
At the very top of the hill take the trail toward Coit Tower and visit the Art Deco murals in the Tower lobby. The elevator ride to the top of the tower -- and the views from there -- are unforgettable.
NOW: you can head back down the way you came, or keep going, down the other side of Telegraph Hill. Filbert, Greenwich and Lombard Streets all lead into North Beach, the Italian neighborhood that served great coffee when Seattle was still pouring watered-down swill to Boeing employees. Try Caffe Trieste at 609 Vallejo at Grant, toward Downtown. There is no shame in sipping a latte. Sit for a while and listen: yes....that IS the beat of the Beatniks you hear.
All these streets lead to Columbus, which has buses, cabs and a cable car that can take you back downtown -- if you are too tired to walk.
Visiting San Franciso by foot is easily done. We found that the Cable Cars were a great way of getting around. Also you may find that some hotels offer a courtesy bus that runs to and from the hotel to Union square. By using both these means of transport and adding a little footwork we managerd to spent 3 days visiting the city and its attractions. the public Transport during the day is great, however we didn't travel at night so we can comment on that.
You can hop on and off the Cable cars without cost, however sometimes you may have to pay only a couple of US dollars if pulled up by a conductor (which is usually at the start of end of the lines).
Fondest memory: I found San Francisco really tourist friendly, especially at the Piers, Nob Hill, and Union square.
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