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 frieze 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 frieze created by Sister Justina Niemierski. Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

Another portion of the frieze 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 these 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