How Tall is Bernal Hill? Scatter Plot References

I recently spent some time trying to figure out how tall Bernal Hill is, and posted my findings on Bernalwood. In the comments, Eric Fischer posted a super-detailed (five-foot contour interval) topo map that the city makes available, showing the peak as at least 450 feet (and less than 455 feet). I think I believe it… I’d include it in this scatter plot if I could figure out what date to assign it:


The list of references for the scatter plot was too long to include there, so I’m posting it here:

1869 U.S. Coastal Survey map 480 feet

1899 Report upon a System of Sewerage for the City and County of San Francisco: “Bernal Heights rise to an elevation of over 490 feet.”

1906 Insurance Engineering, Volume 11: “Further to the south, Bernal Heights, between two branches of Islias [sic] Creek, reaches an elevation of about 500 feet.”

1911 “Chevalier” 475+ feet

1959 Hills of San Francisco, a collection of articles from the Chronicle, lists Bernal at 325 feet. Gladys Hansen’s San Francisco Almanac also used this figure. It’s at least 100 feet too low.

1960 Survey for proposed microwave tower: 455 feet

1981 USGS survey report 443 feet

1982 W.S. Chase “Relief Model of San Francisco” map with 50-foot interval contours. Sixth Floor collection, San Francisco Main Library. Highest contour drawn on Bernal is 400 feet. (i.e. 400-449′ summit)

2004 “Peak Experience,” by Tom Graham, San Francisco Chronicle, November 7, 2004: 500 feet.

2005 American Tower Corporation site survey, November 17, 2005: 446 feet. (But “top of steel” on Sutrito is 507 feet, and the highest antenna topped out at 526 feet.)


2 thoughts on “How Tall is Bernal Hill? Scatter Plot References

  1. Pingback: Fifty Years Ago: “Ugly Hill to Be Beautified” with Construction of New Microwave Relay Tower | Bernalwood

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