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San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Remnants of Rincon Hill

 
 
Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 20, 2014
1. Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker
Inscription. Look up First Street towards the remnants of Rincon Hill; in the 1850s it was the first fashionable residential neighborhood in the city. When the excitement of the Gold Rush subsided, San Franciscans looked around for the best place to build a house with a view from a sunny hill, out of the wind and fog, and yet within reach of the financial district and the waterfront – Rincon Hill took the honors. In the 1850s the hill was higher, with several summits at 120 feet. An abundance of springs provided water for the gardens that made the hill such a desirable place to live. Hawthorn, Essex, Dover, Vassar Place, and Laurel Place were names taken from the English countryside and transplanted on small streets lined with walled-gardens, just off of Harrison, Folsom and Bryant. Along these streets the capitalists and lawyers, sea-captains and bankers, editors and senators, foundry owners and canny real estate investors, as well as mining stock speculators and judges, settled their families in houses that reflected individual tastes.

Rincon Hill was first assaulted in 1869 when the notorious Second Street Cut dug a trench seventy feet deep along the width of fashionable Second Street from Bryant to Folsom, leaving houses teetering on the abyss. Gradually, in the 1880s and 90s, most of the larger houses became boarding houses
Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 20, 2014
2. Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker
Photograph: Top row, left

There were no typical Rincon Hill estates – for the Victorians, one’s house expressed individual personality. The Gothic style appealed to this ideal. A next door neighbor, Evelyn Breeze, remembers this Gothic home when she played there , a little girl: “When Jerome Lincoln lived there the estate had a black and white marble sidewalk, flanked at each end with two cast-iron lions couchant, which were great favorites with the young... In front was a fountain which played on festive occasions, and in the garden proper were statues of Apollo, Diana, two deer and dogs of varied kinds. There was a round summer house covered with ivy and honeysuckle where lunch was occasionally served. Near the stables, was an aviary where quail called to each other morning and evening. A large green parrot shrieked on his perch and gave military orders in French, much to the delight of the young.”
with good addresses, or sanitariums, or Bohemian enclaves for artists and writers. The great fire of 1906 destroyed all of the homes on the hill. Some land holders put up post-fire flats for city workers. Others sold out to expanding city industries. Many lots stood vacant. In the 1930s the decision to locate the entrance to the Bay Bridge on the hill destroyed the working-class neighborhood that grew up after 1906. Construction of the Bay Bridge and its highway connections effectively erased any evidence of the day when Rincon Hill was the best address in San Francisco.

On the front of the podia

All that is left of once beautiful and imposing mansions crowned the brow of the cliff – Harles Stoddard, 1903

On the back of the podia

To each the city of his dreams – George Sterling, 1901
 
Erected by San Francisco Art Commission for the Waterfront Transportation Projects.
 
Location. 37° 46.951′ N, 122° 23.309′ W. Marker is in San Francisco, California, in San Francisco City and County. Marker is on The Embarcadero near Townsend Street, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 684 The Embarcadero, San Francisco CA 94107, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8
Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 20, 2014
3. Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker
Photograph: Top row, center left

Lawrence Coe built an Italian villa at the 100 foot summit at Harrison and Essex in 1861 to enjoy the view of the harbor from his extensive balcony.
other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Building the Seawall (within shouting distance of this marker); Townsend Street (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Alaska Packers (about 300 feet away); The Oriental Warehouse (about 300 feet away); Whaling Out of San Francisco (about 400 feet away); Fremont Street (about 400 feet away); Java House (about 500 feet away); Ghost Ship - Lydia (about 600 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in San Francisco.
 
Also see . . .  A History of Ever-changing Rincon Hill - SPUR. By 1852, San Francisco's overgrown mining camp era was rapidly disappearing. Many Forty-Niners asked their wives or sweethearts back home to join them... Many of these families lived in three- and four-room cottages in today's downtown area and nearby South of Market blocks. Well-to-do San Franciscans, of course, wanted substantial houses and stylish neighborhoods which, for a few, recalled their previous way of life back East and, for most others, showed off the money they had just won in the West. (Submitted on March 31, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. Notable Buildings
 
Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 20, 2014
4. Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker
Photograph: Top row, center right

In 1879, William Babcock and his wife enjoy their garden from the porch of their comfortable home at #11 Essex, built in 1854. Lavish planting gave the illusion of a country estate, although First Street iron foundries were but a block away.
Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 20, 2014
5. Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker
Photograph: Top row, right

Carefully manicured Victorian gardens of the 1880’s at the corner of Bryant and Second streets are the setting for the forty room spread of Peter Donahue, an Irish blacksmith turned capitalist.
Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 20, 2014
6. Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker
Photograph: Bottom row, left

The same corner of Essex and Harrison in 1916. Nothing survived the April 18, 1906 fire but the original stone wall put up in 1861.
Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 20, 2014
7. Photograph detail from Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker
Photograph: Bottom row, right

Guy Place ended at the edge of Babcock’s garden. By 1919 tenement flats had been built alongside industrial buildings, filling space left by the 1906 fire. The 1910 census revealed over-crowded conditions where European immigrants struggled to survive.
Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 20, 2014
8. Remnants of Rincon Hill Marker
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 218 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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