Reservoir Park, or whatever it’s called

I finally got a chance last Sunday to check out the new park they built this year where the old Russian Hill Reservoir at Hyde and Bay Streets used to be. It’s kind of out of the way and not that easy to get to, even with public transportation, but it’s got great views, and it’s better than that ugly reservoir that’s been there for over a hundred years. (Thumbnail images)

You can see the concrete from the reservoir from Hyde Street on the left in both pictures from an update that I did in March of 2020.

Because the park was built on the side of a steep hill, there’s a winding walking path that takes you from the bottom of the park to the main area at the top. That’s the Ghirardelli Square Tower under construction on the left.

In 2021, I matched up an photo of an old photo from Larkin Street with the construction of the new park that would open in 2022.

Last Sunday, I did another update of the previous photos of the old reservoir under construction in 1919 with the new park looking toward Hyde Street. The famous Chateau Building at Francisco and Hyde Streets is still there. That tent was just a young couple with babies enjoying the new park for the day, and not the beginning of a homeless encampment. (

The old stairway that leads from the park up to Larkin and Francisco Streets in 1916: (

At the top of the stairs in the previous picture is sacred movie ground. This was one of the locations of the famous car chase scene with Steve McQueen’s Mustang chasing the Charger in ‘Bullitt’.


The view of the area from Bay and Larkin Streets in 1915 before the reservoir and park were built: (








3 thoughts on “Reservoir Park, or whatever it’s called

  • African sumac, Rhus lancea, seem to be the primary street tree there. YUCK! I loathe it! Unfortunately, they are splendid street trees, particularly for San Francisco, where other options are not so happy with the climate there. It is related to poison oak, and some arborists who must prune them for clearance over the sidewalks and streets are slightly allergic to it. Realistically though, arborists are the only people who must contend with it in such a manner, since the canopies will soon be out of reach of everyone else. Besides, one must really wallow in the foliage to experience even a slight allergic reaction. Those trees could be there for a few centuries without displacing the pavement. Their roots are very complaisant, and even mature trees are not very big. Some landscape designer knew what he or she was doing. The Ceanothus (which I can not identify) at middle of the lower margin of the second picture, the flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum, to the left, and the coffeeberry, Rhamnus californica, to the right are cultivars of native species that should be quite happy there, as well as very appropriate to such hillside landscapes. They are not as permanent as species that were more common in older landscapes, and may start to die out after fifteen years or so, but if the park is maintained properly, they could be replaced with more of the same. (I notice, particularly in San Francisco, that longevity is not necessarily an advantage. For example, those cypress and junipers that are so overgrown at Coit Tower were likely practical for many years, but really should be removed now.)

    • Wow, your comments are always a learning experience for me, Tony! Also, you’re spot on about the trees surrounding Coit Tower. You can see practically nothing in the front or back of Coit Tower at ground level because of the trees, and they simply will not even trim them. Although it’s denied, I still think that it’s a way to force people to pay for the ride to the top of the tower to see the view.

      • Well, I get a bit too descriptive with information that you need not know. Coit Tower has annoyed me for as long as I was aware of bad landscape design, and was actually one of the case studies that we examined in school, because it demonstrated how old landscape material can eventually get too overgrown to function as intended, and too overgrown to renovate. There were also a few home landscapes in what might be the Outer Sunset District, overlooking Ocean Beach, that were deprived of their views by overgrown vegetation that was not maintained properly. I suppose that the views were adequate from the windows within the homes, but there was not much to see from ground level. That was when I realized that so-called ‘gardeners’ do not care.

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