Tank Hill is an excellent historic location to enjoy picturesque views of downtown San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge and the famous Marin Headlands. Even though the 2.8 acre park is too small to be shown on some maps of San Francisco, every July 4th many local residents watch the San Francisco City fireworks at Crissy Field and Oakland from this unique vantage point. Normally not many residents visit Tank Hill so it’s a quiet and peaceful place for tourists and the neighborhood is very safe, even at night. Tank Hill is near 17th Street and Clayton, and one access point is east of Shrader Street at the end of Belgrave Avenue. But the easiest access is from the stairs at Twin Peaks and Clarendon.
In 1977 Tank Hill was purchased by the City of San Francisco and officially established as a municipal public park because some developers wanted to build 20 houses there. But local residents convinced the city to buy Tank Hill for $650,000 that was paid for by funds from the Open Space Program. In 1960 the city sold the same land for 1/3 of that amount and today, $650,000 wouldn’t even buy one house in that area of the city.
The name Tank Hill was chosen by the city because a huge water tank was built at that location in 1894 by the Spring Valley Water Company to store drinking water that was pumped up from Laguna Honda Reservoir on the south side of Mount Sutro. In 1930 Tank Hill became public property when the San Francisco Water Department was created. The original water tank was removed in 1957 and now a ring of eucalyptus trees surrounds the original concrete tank foundation.
One of the unique features of Tank Hill Park is that it contains more than 60 species of native San Francisco plants, which also provide food for endangered butterflies such as the Callippe Silverspot and the Mission Blue. During the spring season, many people say that Tank Hill’s wildflower show is one of the city’s most spectacular sights because the colors change from yellow in March to purple in April, and then turn pink in May. Geology students may be able to recognize some Franciscan radiolarian chert rock outcroppings that were originally formed on the floor of the Pacific Ocean 130 million years ago. The spectacular views from Tank Hill, the species of native plants, and the endangered species of butterflies make Tank Hill an interesting place to visit.
Peter Cross is an accomplished article writer and creative writer who has produced hundreds of articles for many different clients since 2006 when he retired from his consulting business.