It was difficult to get people or supplies up Nob Hill until 1873, when inventor Andrew Hallidie built a cable car line up Clay Street, the first in the world. That same year, General David Colton, a lawyer and vice president of the Southern Pacific Railroad, built the first mansion on the hill, on what is now Huntington Park.
|Cable car on California St. , circa 1880|
By 1880, three of the Big Four -- Stanford, Crocker and Hopkins -- had built enormous mansions here, an incredible display of unimaginable wealth acquired by building railroads. People started calling it Nob Hill, “nob” being a slang term for a person with extravagant wealth.
Tents on the ashes of the Huntington and Crocker Mansions, in front of the ruins of the Flood mansion and the Fairmont Hotel, 1906.
Photos courtesy: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library