San Francisco and the Connection to
the Big Four
Among the prominent figures in the early history of San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood were the Big Four, a popular name given to the railroad magnates Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington, and Leland Stanford. The opulent mansions build by the Big Four in Nob Hill were instrumental in defining the economic and social landscape of the neighborhood. Although these mansions have since perished following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, their presence in Nob Hill has not been forgotten, and today, if you were to take a stroll through the neighborhood, you would see buildings and landmarks bearing the names of the Big Four. From the Big 4 Restaurant located on the ground floor of Huntington Hotel to Crocker Garage, Huntington Park, Mark Hopkins Hotel, and Stanford Court Hotel, these sites serve as a historic reminder of the enduring legacy of the Big Four in present-day San Francisco.
The emergence of the Big Four on Nob Hill dates back to the Gold Rush Era. Clay Street Hill, as Nob Hill was then called, was a relatively unpopulated neighborhood, marked by its steep, windy hills.With the arrival of the first cable car line on Clay Street in 1873, the steep hills of Nob Hill became more accessible and shortly thereafter, the moneyed class, attracted to the isolation of the neighborhood from the hustle and bustle of the waterfront, as well as its sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, flocked to build mansions atop the hill.
The influx of wealthy residents to the neighborhood led to the adoption of the name ‘Nob Hill’ – though the origins of the name are rooted in several legends. According to one legend, the name is derived from ‘nabob’, an Anglo-Indian term denoting a person of great wealth and status; another legend has the name taken from ‘hob nobbers’, a descriptive term for those who socialized with the upper class; and a third legend interprets the name as a slang term for the “snobs” who took up residence in the hills. Nevertheless, all the legends share a common reference to the wealthy elite, particularly the Big Four, who played a pivotal role in transforming Nob Hill to its modern day incarnation as an affluent neighborhood renowned for its elegant hotels and grand mansions which are home to the city’s old money families.
鐵路四巨頭在三藩市諾布山早期的歷史中佔據重要的地位，“四巨頭”是人們通常用來指代四位鐵路工業資本家的慣用稱呼，包括：查爾斯•克羅克，馬克•霍普金斯，柯林斯P. 亨廷頓，和利蘭•斯坦福。 諾布山上由這幾位富商修建的豪華建築群對決定當地的經濟和社會面貌起到關鍵的作用。儘管這些豪華建築在1906年三藩市地震和大火之後開始逐漸衰敗，但人們並沒有忘記他們在諾布山的存在，直到今天，當你漫步在諾布山附近的街區，你會看到以當年的四巨頭名字命名的各種建築和地標。從位於亨廷頓酒店地面一層的Big 4餐廳，到克羅克車庫，再到亨廷頓公園，馬克•霍普金斯酒店，還有斯坦福花園酒店。這些地標性歷史建築再一次提醒人們四巨頭為今日的三藩市留下的永久遺產。