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THE VISTAS OF SAN FRANCISCO: Pairing Tank Hill With an Olympia

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Up next is Tank Hill, a relatively well-kept secret when compared to his more popular older brother, Twin Peaks. Just down the way from that Disneyland of vistas you can find good ol’ Tank Hill, quietly providing some of the best views of Downtown to the east and Golden Gate Park and beyond to the west. I climbed this hill with my chosen beverage on, as you can see, an archetypal summer day in our fair city. Luckily, the fog rolling in provides an atmosphere that’s at once spooky and beautiful. If I needed to wait for a clear day in San Francisco each time I wanted to photograph the city from a hill, this project could take years.

I chose Olympia because, well, “It’s the Water”.

Tank Hill is named after the Clarendon Heights Water Tank, built by the Spring Valley Water Company in 1894. It stored drinking water pumped from Laguna Honda over on the the other side of Twin Peaks. The tower became property of the city in 1930 when they acquired the SVWC, establishing the San Francisco Water Department. The tank itself was removed in 1957 and now all that’s left is the concrete foundation (pictured below).


The story of the Spring Valley Water Company is itself fascinating and a great essay on its history can be found here. Essentially, they were a ruthlessly monopolizing company back in the wild days of California and had a stranglehold over water rights in the Bay Area. Who knew? We’ve had our own version of Chinatown up here this whole time. Tucked away at Tank Hill is a forgotten story about how water used to flow in the Bay Area and, in my opinion, there’s no more appropriate beer than an Olympia. After all, there is something about them that makes them go down like like, um, water. Which of course is another reason I chose an easy-drinkin’ session beer for a place whose name practically begs you to get “tanked”.


The view toward downtown. Look! I think I see sun in Oakland!

There are multiple points of entry to the park, but your best bet is to go up to Parnassus on Cole, make a right, then a left on Shrader and take it to the top.


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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.

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