One of San Francisco’s original Seven Hills", Nob Hill is an affluent neighbourhood to the west of the Financial District. Its outstanding views and elegant Victorian-era homes give it an exclusive air, and with a name that is slang for "nobility", it is an apt description even today.
Nob Hill is home to some of San Francisco’s most expensive hotels, some of which were rebuilt over the ruins of former mansions following the 1906 earthquake. The Mark Hopkins Hotel, Stanford Court and Huntington Hotel were all named after the leading entrepreneurs of the Central Pacific Railroad, with the fourth, Charles Crocker, having a garage named after him in Nob Hill. The famous Fairmont Hotel, named after the local tycoon James G Fair also resides in the district, just opposite the state Masonic Temple and opulent Grace Cathedral, renowned for its mosaics by Jan Henryk De Rosen. At the site of Collis Huntington’s former mansion now lies the leafy greenery of Huntington Park, known for its "Fountain of Tortoises", landscaped gardens and children’s playground, while the Cable Car Museum is a must for anyone interested in the history and mechanics of this iconic San Franciscan mode of transportation. World-class restaurants, chic bars and vintage barber shops all combine to give Nob Hill a unique atmosphere that makes it a standout in San Francisco.
The Powell-Hyde cable car line runs through Nob Hill and all the way down to the Fisherman’s Wharf, stopping at the crooked section of Lombard Street in adjacent Russian Hill. The neighbourhood itself is small and easily explored on foot, although it’s very steep and can be strenuous on the legs.
The area that is now known as Nob Hill was originally called California Hill after the street that climbs its eastern edge. It was renamed after the Central Pacific Railroad’s "Big Four" who built their mansions here and were collectively nicknamed the "Nobs". The area was largely destroyed during the 1906 earthquake that rocked the city, and smoky black scars can still be seen along the granite walls of many of its mansions.