28 December 2012

Forgotten Hills: Hunters Point Hill

San Francisco is famous for its hills. However, out of the dozens of hills, small and large, high and low, some have been forgotten or ignored. Some of these hills have yet to be named. Some hills have some sort of name, however, they aren't part of the cities general knowledge. This time we look at San Francisco's easternmost hill: Hunters Point Hill.

Name: Hunters Point Hill
Height: 125 feet
Ridge/Hill Group: Hunters Point Ridge
Prominence: 25 feet
Original Height of 171 feet had a 50 foot prominence and a 171 foot prominence to the east.
Confusion: often confused with Stony Hill, which is the high point of the ridge at 282 feet.
Where: The Shipyard Development (Former Hunters Point Naval Station)
Cross Streets: Jerrold Ave and Coleman St

UPDATE: Find about about other Forgotten Hills. Black Point at Fort Mason, and La Portezuela

Hunters Point Hill seen from Donohue and Jerrold streets. Friedell Street is in the foreground with Jerrold crossing the hill.
Hunters Point Hill is one of San Francisco's lowest hills at 125 feet according to US Geological Survey (USGS) maps. Only Rincon Hill (105'), Fort Mason Bluff (100'), Alice Griffith Hill (75') and Irish Hill (50') are shorter. Much like Rincon and Irish, it appears to be one of the most carved out hills, as shown by the Google StreetView image below. The rather modest peak is to the right the right of the blocked off street (Innes St).
Photo: Google Maps
Many folks may have forgotten about the hill for several reasons. For decades it resided in an off-limits naval base. Also, rising a modest 125 feet, or by some counts, only 106 feet, the hill isn't quite the promontory of a Telegraph Hill or the dominating height of Twin Peaks. The main reason is that it is overshadowed by its higher neighbor, Stony Hill (282') and Mt. St. Joseph (250') (Silver Terrace). These two are much higher, and are in areas much more frequented by people.

As shown on the map below, you can see that Hunters Point Hill lies on the east end of the Hunters Point Ridge, rising about 50 feet above the saddle in the ridge separating it from Stony Hill and the higher parts of Hunters Point Ridge. It's one claim to a superlative is the fact the hill is the easternmost hill on the San Francisco mainland. (Goat Hill (338') on Yerba Buena Island lies slightly further east.)

Hunters Point Hill in southeastern San Francisco on the Hunters Point peninsula.

Hunters Point Ridge and local topgraphy. Source: San Francisco Topography Map

In the past, there were actually two peaks on the eastern end of Hunters Point. As shown in the US Coastal Survey Map (via the David Rumsey Collection), you can see one distinct peak rising to 171 feet, and two modest peaks rising to 150 feet next to the word "Point" in  "Hunters Point". The 171 foot peak has clearly been excavated to make landfill for the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. However the more modest peak remains, however excavated a more modest 25 feet down to its current 125 feet.

The current peak is near the two yellow topo lines. The original peak is marked with the yellow arrow and the 171' marker.
1907 US Coastal Survey. Source: David Rumsey Collection
Plans for the Hunters Point Redevelopment call for the hill to be remade with dense housing and several parks, including Hunters View Park.

Shipyard Development. This cross street is near the high point of the hill. Image: San Francisco Redevelopment Agency
 As shown in the image below, the high point of this hill is in the upper left, near the intersection of Coleman St and Jerrold Ave, which is at the far left intersection as highlighted by the image below.
Image: TheShipyardSF.com
Image: TheShipyardSF.com
Meanwhile the area is still quite desolate, which was accentuated by the rainy day when I visited the hill. Luckily renderings of the future development, and a video by The Shipyard show nicer images of today and the future. See below.

Image: TheShipyardSF.com
Images from The Shipyard video on art.
Source: The Shipyard: Renovating a Community Through Art

Source: The Shipyard: Renovating a Community Through Art

Source: The Shipyard: Renovating a Community Through Art
Note that information on San Francisco's hills, their names and heights can be found at many different web sites. The names of hills, location, and height are not consistent. In other words, a hill like Bernal Peak has more than several heights listed. Bernalwood, did a piece on this that explains the many challenges to finding a peaks actual height in a piece called "How Tall is Bernal Hill, Really?"
You can also find a great list at SF Gazetteer and an alternative list with great photographs at 47 Hills.

2 comments:

  1. Cool post! Of all the major changes in San Francisco, this is one of the biggest flying under the radar, which I guess has to do with the military aspect. I used to hang out at my friend's house on the very end of Innes (near the base entrance) and really ought to get out there again.

    New fact to me: I noticed on the 1907 map that Double Rock was a real place and not the name of projects (Not that those aren't real places.) (Can't quite tell what it was exactly, but one would assume some sort of actual rock? Curious...)

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    1. Double Rock is a very small and low lying island. I can't seem to find anything else about it after a modest internet search. Don't even know why it's called Double Rock.

      Was the gate to the base at Innes? Now it is further east, on Galvez.

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