New trees for Nob Hill to echo nineteenth century glory

Mark Hopkins Hotel neighbor inspired by vintage photos

February 3, 2010 — Nob Hill resident Dean Harris, a collector of historic photos of San Francisco, noticed that photos taken in the 1880’s show a row of trees adorning the portion of Mason Street that now flanks the Mark Hopkins Hotel.  They were planted during construction of the ornate, Gothic 40-room mansion of railroad tycoon Mark Hopkins, which previously occupied the site of the hotel.  A photo taken after the 1906 earthquake and fire shows the mansion in ruins, but the trees still standing tall.  Those trees are long gone, and for generations that sidewalk has been bare.

Harris, a Canadian transplant who has lived in San Francisco for six years, was inspired to organize the planting of new trees on that block, both to beautify it and to restore some of its former beauty.

After rallying the support of his neighbors and local businesses, gaining approval from the hotel, and contacting Friends of the Urban Forest, Harris is turning his vision into reality.  On Saturday, February 6, FUF will deliver ten Southern Magnolia trees to the site and lead a group of volunteers, including Harris and his neighbors, in the planting.

“Nob Hill is a very popular spot for visitors, but for years this block has looked somewhat bare,” said FUF Planting Manager Heidi Lakics.  “The addition of beautiful magnolia trees will make a big difference there.”

Harris, who owns a business that sells historic postcards of San Francisco, is working with an historian to track down clear images of the ornate metal fences that once encircled the bases of the trees on that block.  He plans to raise funds to hire a blacksmith to reproduce those fences for the new magnolia trees, further restoring the block to its late nineteenth century glory.


A team of volunteers, led by FUF Planting Manager Heidi Lakics, will be onsite planting trees on the block of Mason between 10:00 a.m. and noon on Saturday, February 6.

About Friends Of The Urban Forest

Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) is a non-profit organization committed to the belief that trees are a critical element of a livable urban environment.  FUF works to promote a larger, healthier urban forest as part of the urban ecosystem, through community planting, maintenance, education and advocacy in San Francisco.  Since 1981, FUF has offered financial, technical, and practical assistance to individuals and neighborhood groups who want to plant and care for trees.  Each year, FUF helps San Francisco communities plant nearly 1,000 trees.