Tank Hill: Inspiration VistaPosted on Apr 23 2013

By Lisa Zamarin

Tank/Pagan Hill is one of my favorite places in San Francisco to unwind and enjoy the view, which stretches from ocean to bay, and as far north as Point Reyes on a clear day.

Here's some history:

Tank hill was established in 1977. 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 water tank was removed in 1957 (only the round foundation remains, which led to its alternative name when pagan’s began to meet there for ritual practices).

In 1977, developers proposed building 20 houses on the 2.8 acre site, but the community convinced the city to buy Tank Hill back for $650,000 from the recently created Open Space Program.

The space is home to over 60 species of native plants. The hill's rich native plant community contains larval food plants for endangered butterflies (Mission Blue and Callippe Silverspot) as well as habitat for garter snakes, alligator lizards, western meadow larks, kestrals and hawks. The spring wildflower show is one of the city's most spectacular sights as the hill changes colors from yellow in March, to purple in April, to pink in May. The site also exposes some beautiful Franciscan radiolarian chert rock outcrops, the city's oldest natural features, formed on the ocean floor 130 million years ago.

A big concern on the space is the threat of non-native plants taking over. One of the biggest threats are the eucalyptus trees. Planted after the Pearl Harbor attack to conceal the water tank from Japanese planes, the trees now shade the natives, collect and drip moisture, drop tons of debris, and alter the soil composition.

There are many community events at Tank Hill, and a very active neighbor organization that helps to maintain and protect the space.

To get to Tank Hill: Best access point to the park is at the end of Belgrave Ave., east of Shrader St. Take the 37-Corbett bus to 17th Street and Cole, walk west on 17th to Shrader, then follow Shrader south to Belgrave. Tank Hill is visible from the Shrader/Belgrave intersection.

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Lisa Zamarin is Creative Services Manager for the CIIS Communications Department.



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