Tank Hill is one of San Francisco’s secret treasures. Its name comes from the Clarendon Heights Water Tank, built in 1894 by the Spring Valley Water Company to store drinking water pumped from Laguna Honda. Tank Hill became city property in 1930 when Spring Valley was acquired to establish the San Francisco Water Department. The prominent water tank was removed in 1957, and all that remains is its round foundation. Residents remember seeing goldfish flowing down Belgrave Avenue when the old tank was drained. In 1960 Tank Hill was sold as surplus property for $230,000. In 1977, developers proposed building 20 houses, but the community convinced the city to buy the hill back with $650,000 from the recently created Open Space Fund.
At an elevation of 650 feet, Tank Hill’s main draw is its panoramic view, from Pt. Reyes to Bayview Hill. But what makes this small rocky promontory unique is that it is a remnant of San Francisco’s indigenous landscape, containing 60 species of native plants. The easiest access is a stairway at Twin Peaks and Clarendon. There is also an entrance at the east end of Belgrave Street.