You can get two very unique perspectives from this spot. The "now" perspective is the modern downtown, which speaks for itself.
The "then" perspective has to do with the 1906 earthquake, and enormous fires that followed, and which caused far more damage than the earthquake. This is a great spot to view that history, at least in your mind's eye.
Envision the panorama in front of you burned to the ground. That's pretty accurate. The fire burned most everything from the water's edge (a mile past the larger buildings, which are three miles from this spot) to 20th and Dolores. Dolores is the street you can see down the hill at the edge of the park, and 20th is where you're "standing" in the photo. In short, nearly everything you can see in this photograph, everything on the other side of Dolores, burned to the ground.
One reason the fires spread so far and fast is that the there was hardly any water. Almost every fire hydrant was dry. Why did the fire stop here? Just a few steps to the west is a hydrant (now called the golden hydrant) that was full to bursting with water. Fire tankers came here to fill up, and were manhandled up 20th and down Dolores, delivering enough water to stop the flames at those two streets.
Thanks to this particular hydrant, the citizens were able to save the oldest building in San Francisco, which is just 4 blocks north of here (the Mission Dolores, ca. 1785).
Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.
A place to see a great view of San Francisco
Why It's Interesting
Dolores Park is large and open, and the south edge is part way up a fairly steep hill. This makes for one of the best places for an unobstructed view of the city. Not to mention one of the most visually appealing high schools around.
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