Nob Hill is one of San Francisco’s signature neighborhoods, renowned for its city landmarks and the famous hotels that border Huntington Park. For those who explore further, it also reveals unexpected facets. In addition to its swanky character, the area is influenced by the diverse personalities of the downtown neighborhoods that surround it, making it an intriguing place to visit.
The area’s reputation of privilege dates back to Gold Rush times, when cable car lines made the hilltop accessible and the railroad barons and bonanza kings built their mansions there, far above the rowdiness of the bawdy waterfront. Luxury hotels now stand in the place of those original palaces, and when you hike to the top of the hill, historic buildings such as the Fairmont Hotel and the Flood Mansion are undeniably impressive, as are the lush cascades of bougainvillea and the genteel apartment buildings with their wedding-cake facades.
Venture away from Huntington Square and the terrain starts to change. Chinese temples and small businesses spill over from Chinatown, and over towards Union Square you find upscale boutiques. Funky shops and dive bars lie along the blurred edges of the Tenderloin (an area known as the Tender Nob), and the Polk Street boundary is lined with nightclubs and popular bars.
Some parts of the neighborhood feel frozen in time. The hill is dotted with vintage barber shops, old corner coffee shops and cocktail lounges from bygone decades. Nob Hill has also been home to some iconic San Francisco characters. Legendary columnist Herb Caen lived in the Brocklebank building, across from the Fairmont Hotel, and the neighborhood is currently home to Marian and Vivian Brown, the famous “San Francisco twins,” known for their signature identical outfits.
It can be difficult to distinguish the precise boundaries of the Nob Hill neighborhood. This guide covers an area roughly bordered by Polk, Post, Mason and Washington Streets.
Courtesy of SFGate.com