Nob Hill or “Nabob Hill” is a tony neighborhood n San Francisco. Yes, yes, the term “nabob” is derived from the Hindustani/Arab word “nawab” but morphed into “nabob” when the British were in India. The first reference of the word “nabob” was supposedly in 1612. “Nabob” was used quite a bit in Britain to describe the riches reaped by British officials during their stint with The East India Company in India.
Tbe building with the flags is the famous Fairmont Hotel, which opened in 1907. The hotel, which was almost completed in 1906 was damaged during the 1906 earthquake. After the earthquake local native and architect Julia Morgan (Hearst Castle fame) was hired to redesign the interiors of this landmark hotel.
Leland Stanford (of Stanford University) was one of the first ones to build his mansion on California Hill. It was dubbed into “Nob Hill” around this time when the rest of the “Big Four” of the Central Pacific Railways built their mansions in this neighborhood. The other 3 “nabobs” were Mark Hopkins, Collis Potter Hutington and Charles Crocker, whp built their mansions in this area.
Modern transportation made this area accessible in the late 19thc. In 1873 when cable cars were introduced in San Francisco, Nob Hill was one of the areas served. A few years later a street car dedicated to this are was introduced. In 1878 Leland Stanford and others helped bring the cable car to California Street.
During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake many of the mansions on Nob hill suffered extensive damage. In this video from 1906 you can see the extent of the damage and also catch a glimpse of the newly built Fairmont Hotel that survived the big quake.
A word of caution if you plan to visit Nob Hill area, use the streetcar or drive up in your car. Walking up that steep California Street will leave you winded and breathless as I discovered. But then again, it is your choice and don’t tell me I did not give you fair warning.
Here is a breath taking view of San Francisco from the top of Fairmont Hotel.