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Our Hills

The Clay Street Railroad solved the problem. We spent fifteen years and as many millions of money trying to cut down our hills and spoil them. It was a sad waste of energy and good money, not unnatural perhaps, but a desperate blunder. Now we see that the one thing paramount is not to cut down hills; let them remain as high as nature built them; the higher the better and the steeper the better; for thus will the views be the best, and each succeeding terrace of houses more freely overlook the next lower terrace. On every summit plant the stationary engine, and let us mount by our wire-rope railways even as we are wafted to the sky stories of our giant taverns by the soaring elevator. Our wire-rope railways are so many elevators on a magnified scale; the function is identical; their effect will be akin. The house elevator as rendered the topmost stories of our hotels the most attractive and desirable floors; and in like wise the wire railway renders the topmost hights of our hillsides their finest building sites. We have been a little slow to learn the lesson that the Clay street railroad had to teach; nor have the stupid among us fully appreciated even yet all its implications. But Stanford, and the choice spirits who are with him in the Bush street enterprise, are not of the fat-witted sort; and we are safe in assuming that the truth they have discovered will not remain long hidden from others who are in the like boat with them. Next Pacific street demands a wire road, and later the acclivities that rise from the old North Beach. These completed, Russian Hill will be adequately served, and some hundreds of the finest and most eligible sites within the limits of San Francisco duly utilized. We need one elevator to mount to the new public square on the summit of Telegraph Hill. Thus only can that spirited public gift be redeemed from the limbo of delusion and mockery. With the fullness of time will all these things come, and with their coming we shall witness a revival of values on those hights which is no more easy to realize now than it would have been three years ago to realize the speculation now taking place in Dupont street property, based on the prospective widening of that thoroughfare and our experience of the effect of widening Kearny street.

San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser
May 27, 1876