Friday, April 14, 2017

San Francisco's Hawk Hill is an impressive sand dune located in the Forest Hill neighborhood: 14 April 2017

For thousands of years, strong winds from the Pacific Ocean blew sand from the ocean onto what is now known as San Francisco. This natural behavior created many sand dunes to multiply and grow on the San Francisco peninsula. Hawk Hill is a massive dune located approximately two miles east of the ocean's shoreline. The hill has a maximum elevation of about 650 feet. Hawk Hill's naturally eroding sand was always replenished with sand blown across what is now known as the Sunset District

The Outside Lands of San Francisco became populated after the earthquake of 1906. Beginning in the early Twentieth Century the sand dunes of the Outside Lands, now known as the Sunset District and the Richmond District, have been bulldozed, paved over with asphalt, covered in concrete, and encased with wooden structures. This new reality left no naturally available source of windblown sand to restore the sand erosion occurring on Hawk Hill. 

Hawk Hill is an ecologically sensitive area located on the westerly side of the Forest Hill neighborhood. The shifting sands on the hill support a wide variety of dune plants. There are no trail signs nor entry signs at Hawk Hill; public access to Hawk Hill is discouraged by the City and County of San Francisco.


A view from Hawk Hill, looking west. Buildings in the Sunset District are visible. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

As I was walking through the Forest Hill neighborhood on my way to Hawk Hill, I passed by this house on Magellan Avenue. The house was the childhood home of Jerry Brown, the current governor of the State of California. Jerry Brown’s father Edmund “Pat” Brown was born in San Francisco in 1905. He attended Lowell High School, as did his wife, Bernice Layne. They had four children, three girls, and a boy; the children were all born in San Francisco. Pat Brown was elected District Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco in 1943. He was subsequently elected Attorney General of California in 1950. Pat Brown was then elected governor of California in 1959. He served two terms as governor, from 1959 to 1967.

Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown Jr., the only son of Bernice and Pat Brown, was born in 1938. He followed his father’s footsteps and went into politics. He served as Secretary of State of California from 1971-1975. He was elected governor of California in 1974 at age 36. Brown was re-elected governor in 1978. He then ran for the United States Senate in 1982 and lost the election. Brown re-emerged on the political stage after he moved his residence to Oakland, California. Brown served as Mayor of Oakland for two terms, from 1999-2007. He then became Attorney General of California from 2007 to 2011. Jerry Brown decided to run for another term as governor of California in 2010. Brown won the election and was thereafter re-elected as governor in 2014. 

Cynthia Brown Kelly, Jerry Brown’s older sister, considered this house her home for almost her entire life. She was 81 when she died on 29 March 2015. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

Okay, now on to Hawk HillThis is the Hawk Hill trail; the view is looking west. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

  This is another view of the trail, looking west. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

A view from the trail looking at the Sunset District and the Pacific Ocean. The large building straight ahead is Abraham Lincoln High School. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This view from the trail is looking southwest The green area in the distance, adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, was the site of Fort FunstonThe fort became operational in 1900; it was decommissioned in 1963. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

This will be the last picture from Hawk Hill; the view is looking south. The mountain ahead on the left, with the antennas on its summit, is San Bruno Mountain. The mountain in the distance on the right is Montara Mountain. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This photo was taken from Grand View Park; the scene is looking northeast. Downtown San Francisco is visible in the distance. The hill on the right is Mount Sutro, and the residential area below is the Inner Sunset District. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

This picture was taken from 14th Avenue near Ortega Street. Ahead is the western portion of Golden Gate Park. The buildings closest to the camera are located in the Sunset District. The buildings on the far side of Golden Gate Park are located in the Richmond District. The hill on the far side of the Richmond District was the site of both the Fort Miley Military Reservation and Golden Gate Cemetery. The building complex on the high point of the hill is the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Please note that as recently as one hundred and twenty years ago, all of the lands that you see in this picture were wild, unpopulated sand dunes. In the distance is the mouth of San Francisco BayMarin County and Mount Tamalpais are on the far side of the bay. The view is looking northwest. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

The church, reddish in color, with the two steeples, is St. Anne of the Sunset Church. The construction of this building began in 1930 and the church was dedicated in 1933. The church has a complex and beautiful sculpture on the exterior of the building. The sculpture was created by Sister Justina Niemierski. The view is looking northeast. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

A part of the sculpture created by Sister Justina Niemierski. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

Another portion of the sculpture created by Sister Justina Niemierski. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

The distance traveled was approximately 5.1 miles (8.2 kilometers). The cumulative elevation gain was approximately 603 feet (184 meters). Mile markers are displayed on the GPS generated track. Click on the image to see the full-size map.

“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” -Dorothea Lange


The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view those photo galleries.

Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with an Olympus 17mm lens was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com

Sunday, April 9, 2017

San Francisco, from West Portal to Edgehill Mountain; and then to the Mission District via Noe Valley: 9 April 2017

Of the many hills in San Francisco, seven are said to have been named at the time of the city’s founding: Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, Rincon Hill, Twin Peaks, Lone Mountain and Mount Davidson

In addition to the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, the hills are San Francisco's most prominent geographical feature. The same colossal forces that caused the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes have shaped the hills; the hills range in elevation from 100 feet to 925 feet. While most of San Francisco is built on sand, many of its hills stand on Franciscan or serpentine bedrock. 

Edgehill Mountain was once part of Adolph Sutro’s San Miguel Ranch. This property was sold by Sutro’s estate after his death in 1898. Edgehill Mountain then became one of the city’s first subdivisions. 

The summit of Edgehill Mountain, 734 feet (224 meters), was leveled, and houses were constructed on and adjacent to the summit. Houses were also built on the mountain's western and southern slopes. Serious problems with building on this land began in 1953 when winter rains caused a home to slide down the western mountain side. Edgehill Mountain Park was established in 1985 when the city purchased 1 acre of the mountain’s undeveloped, western slope and designated the area an Open Space Park.

The unsettled question is how many hills are actually located in San Francisco? The answer to that question varies from seven to fifty-three, depending on what you read or to whom you speak.


Edgehill Mountain, 734 feet (224 meters), is ahead. The picture was taken from Dorchester Way; the view is looking northeast. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This is a view of Mount Davidson, 925 feet (282 meters); it is the tallest hill in San Francisco. This picture was taken from the southern side of Edgehill Mountain; the view is looking southeast. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This photo was taken from Edgehill Way on the northeast side of Edgehill Mountain. Twin Peaks are ahead, as is Sutro Tower; the view is looking northeast. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This is a view from Garcia Avenue. The large rectangular buildings ahead are part of  Laguna Honda Hospital, a sprawling complex constructed in the early 1920s. The hospital’s history dates back to the founding of the city. The view is looking north. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This photo was taken from Idora Avenue. Mount Sutro is visible; the view is looking north. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This photo was taken from Woodside Avenue. In the distance, across San Francisco Bay in Marin County, is Mount Tamalpais, 2,572 feet (784 meters); the summit is sheathed in clouds. The view is looking north. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

Downtown San Francisco is visible in the distance. Trans-Bay Tower is still under construction and it already is the tallest building in San Francisco. This picture was taken from Portola Drive; the view is looking northeast. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.



The mural 'I Still Have A Dream' is located on Twenty-fourth Street in Noe Valley. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

The distance traveled was approximately 4.8 miles (9.1 kilometers). The cumulative elevation gain was approximately 470 feet (143 meters). Mile markers are displayed on the GPS generated track. Click on the image to see the full-size map.

This chart shows the elevation changes encountered during this ramble. Click on the image to see the full-size graph.


“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” -Dorothea Lange


The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view those photo galleries.

Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with an Olympus 17mm lens was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Cypress Lawn Cemetery, Colma, California: 2 March 2017

Of all the attractions available to people visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, none is more unusual than San Francisco’s neighbor to its south, the City of ColmaThe city is located at the base of the western slope of San Bruno Mountain and is sited nine miles south of San Francisco. Colma is a necropolis, a city of the dead. 

Within Colmas two square mile boundary are 16 cemeteries. Colma's dead far outnumber its living. According to the City of Colma, the town’s current population is between 1,400 and 1,500 people; while the number of interred or cremated bodies in Colma is more than 1.5 million.

Colma was established as a part of San Francisco’s urgent attempt to deal with what had been its most enduring social problem since the earliest days of the gold rush, human burial. 

San Francisco is a compact city sited on forty-seven square miles at the tip of a peninsula. The land was more valuable than gold.

By the 1880s, San Francisco officials were enviously eyeing the land occupied by its many cemeteries. The four largest cemeteries in San Francisco were clustered on 60 square blocks in the Western Addition area at the base of Lone MountainCity planners declared that the cemeteries had been put there in error and the land should be used for housing.

San Francisco’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese made the first move. On 2 June 1887, after purchasing a 179-acre land parcel in Colma, the Archbishop of San Francisco went to Colma to dedicate a new Roman Catholic burial ground, Holy Cross Cemetery. The establishment of Holy Cross Cemetery altered Colma’s landscape forever. 

In 1889, Congregation Sherith Israel, a Jewish synagogue, purchased a 20-acre plot for the Hills of Eternity Cemetery. Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, a non-sectarian burial ground, opened in 1892. Others followed rapidly. Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery was established in 1896, The Italian Cemetery in 1899, the Japanese Cemetery in 1901, the Serbian Cemetery in 1901, the Greenlawn Cemetery in 1903, Woodlawn Memorial Park in 1904, the Greek Cemetery in 1935 and most recent, the Hoy Sun Ning Yung Cemetery in 1988. 



This gallery of photographs contains images of some of the eighty-seven private mausoleums that now occupy the original forty-seven acre Cypress Lawn Cemetery site in Colma. Cypress Lawn Cemetery was one of the last grand garden cemeteries built in the West. Garden cemeteries were burial grounds that used landscaping in a park-like setting, rather than merely places for graves. 

The forty-seven-acre site became available for burials beginning in 1892. Many of San Francisco’s wealthy entrepreneurs from the late 1800s and early 1900s purchased burial sites at Cypress Lawn Cemetery for themselves and their families.

The grounds of Cypress Lawn Cemetery are approached through this granite portal located on the east side of El Camino Real. The gateway bears the date 1892Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This is the burial site of Charles De Young (1845-1880). He was the founding publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle. In 1880 de Young shot mayoral candidate Issac Kalloch, who had defamed de Young’s mother, declaring that she ran a house of prostitution. Kalloch’s son subsequently stalked de Young and six months later murdered him. A bronze statue marks de Young’s interment site, where he is buried with his mother, Amelia de Young (1809-1881). Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This mausoleum is the burial location of Rudolph Spreckels (1872-1958). He was the youngest son of sugar baron Claus Spreckels; he built his fortune in sugar, banking, and finance. At the time of his death, he lived in a rented three-room San Mateo apartment. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This mausoleum contains the bodies of George Hearst (1820-1891), his wife, Phoebe Apperson Hearst (1842-1919), and his son William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). George Hearst acquired his riches through his ownership of numerous Nevada Comstock silver mines and real estate investments. Phoebe Apperson Hearst was a philanthropist. She donated millions of dollars to the development of the University of California Berkeley. William Randolph Hearst was a billionaire and an only child. At the height of his power, he owned eighteen newspapers, nine magazines, several radio stations and movie studios. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This is the mausoleum of William G. Irwin (1843-1914). English-born, Irwin purchased the entire Hawaiian island of Lanai and developed one of the largest sugar plantations in the world. He moved to San Francisco in 1899. His mansion on Washington Street in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights housed the Irwin Memorial Blood Bank. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This mausoleum contains the remains of three generations of Floods. James Clair Flood (1826-1889), was the richest of the “silver kings” who made a fortune in Nevada’s Comstock Lode. He also established the Bank of Nevada which was the forerunner to Wells Fargo Bank. His house was the only private residence on Nob Hill to survive the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The house is now the location of the Pacific Union Club. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This is the burial site for the Bancroft Family. Hubert Howe Bancroft (1832-1918) was a Historian. He authored thirty-nine volumes on the history of the West. He amassed sixty-thousand volumes of books which he sold to the University of California, Berkeley. His books are the basis for the Bancroft Library at the University. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This is the mausoleum for Lillie Hitchcock Coit (1842-1929). She bequeathed one-third of her estate for the beautification of San Francisco, a portion of which was used to built Coit Tower. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

 This large mausoleum belongs to German-born sugar baron Claus Spreckels (1828-1908). Ten members of his family occupy this mausoleum. His son Adolph Bernard Spreckels (1857-1924) and his son's wife, Alma de Bretteville (1881-1968) are among the occupants. His son gifted Golden Gate Park with both Spreckels Lake and Spreckels Temple of Music. His wife, Alma, convinced her father-in-law Claus to finance the California Palace of the Legion of Honor as the Spreckels Family rejoinder to the M.H. de Young Museum. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This mausoleum belongs to Charles Frederick Crocker (1854-1897). He was the oldest son of the transcontinental railroad builder Charles Crocker and was also vice president of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The mausoleum noted for its bronze doors, additionally contains the remains of his wife, his eldest daughter, and his mother-in-law. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

This is the sarcophagus of Louis Philippe Drexler (1836-1899). Sitting on the sarcophagus is the Archangel Michael. He is missing his wings and his great sword. Both fell and broke as a result of the 1906 earthquake. Born in Virginia, Louis Drexler moved to Nevada where he made a fortune from mining and real estate investments. Drexler moved to California in 1880, where he subsequently accumulated quite a bit more wealth from his investments in business and mining. He married Elise Alice Kelley Drexler (1866-1951), a woman half his age, late in life. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

These are the twin sarcophagi for William H. Crocker (1861-1937) and his wife, Ethel Crocker. William H. Crocker was the youngest son of the transcontinental railroad builder. He started the Crocker Bank, and was a major rebuilder of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. He also donated land to the Episcopal Church where Grace Cathedral now stands. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.


This Columbarium was built in 1893. It was one of the first built on the West Coast; there is space in this columbarium for one-thousand urns. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

Are you interested in learning more about Colma and its cemeteries? If so, I recommend that you consider acquiring these books:


I purchased the books to support my research for this blog posting, and I found them both very helpful.


The distance traveled was approximately 5.7 miles (9.1 kilometers). Mile markers are displayed on the GPS generated track. Click on the image to see the full-size map.

“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” -Dorothea Lange


The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view those photo galleries.

Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with an Olympus 17mm lens was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A ramble from the new Warm Springs BART station to the summit of Mission Peak, and back: 28 March 2017

It has been about 17 years since BART decision makers publically mentioned the possibility of adding 5.4 miles of train track between the Fremont BART station, the southerly most station in the East Bay, and Warm Springs which is located in the southern portion of Fremont. I read recently that BART was finally going to open the new Warm Springs BART station on Saturday, 25 March 2017. 


I looked at a map to see the exact location of the newly opened Warm Springs BART station, and after a short review of the map, I decided to do a ramble from the Warm Springs BART station to the summit of Mission Peak, 2,520 feet (768 meters), and then back to the Warm Springs BART station. The distance traveled would be approximately 10.5 miles (16.9 kilometers). About six miles of trails, and 4.5 miles on public streets.The cumulative elevation gain would be about 2,542 feet (774 meters). 

Donna joined me on this somewhat strenuous hike. We left the Berkeley BART station at 7:45 am and arrived at the Warm Springs BART station at around 8:50 am; at which time we immediately started our ramble to Mission Peak. It took us about 5 hours and 30 minutes to do the hike.

The Warm Springs BART station. The view is looking west. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

Inside the Warm Springs BART station. The view is looking southwest. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

A view of Mission Peak as seen from the Warm Springs BART station. The view is looking east. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

Here is another view of Mission Peak as seen from the Warm Springs BART station. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

A view from the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. The Tesla car factory is located in the area of the light colored factory buildings seen ahead to the left of center. That area is also the location of the new Warm Springs BART station. The view is looking west. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

On the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. Fremont is ahead. The view is looking northwest. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

Looking east from the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. The summit of Mission Peak beckons. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

Cows grazing near Peak Meadow Trail. The view is looking southeast. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

A view of Mount Diablo, 3,849 feet (1,173 meters), as seen from near the summit of Mission Peak. The view is looking northeast. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

Donna is on the Peak Trail and is very close to the summit of Mission Peak. The view is looking northwest. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

The summit of Mission Peak. The view is looking west. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

We are descending Horse Heaven Trail. Here is a view of the summit of Mission Peak. The view is looking northeast. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

The beautiful hills of California. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

The Ohlone Wilderness Trail is visible; we will be leaving the park shortly and then we will walk back to the Warm Springs BART station for the train ride home. It is approximately thirty-five miles from Warm Springs to Berkeley via BART. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

This map shows the locations of the Warm Springs BART station and Mission Peak Regional Preserve. The area shown is the southeast portion of the Bay Area. Click on the image to see the full-size map.

The distance traveled was approximately 10.5 miles (16.9 kilometers). Six miles were on trails, and 4.5 miles were on public streets. Mile markers are displayed on the GPS generated track. The cumulative elevation gain was about 2,542 feet (774 meters). Click on the image to see the full-size map.

This graph shows the elevation changes encountered during the hike. Click the image to see the full-size chart.


“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” -Dorothea Lange


The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view those photo galleries.

Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with a Panasonic 14mm-42mm lens was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com