The shops of the jewelers, who perform miracles of craftsmanship in gold fliagree and in jade, are especially interesting, the sensitive-fingered artisans working at benches set in the windows in full view of passersby. The meat and fish stalls, the apothecaries, the cobblers who work on the sidewalks, the lily and the bird vendors, the telephone exchange where Chinese girls operate the switchboard, the headquarters of the Six Companies, the Joss House and the Chinese theatre, spilled over into the Latin Quarter, are among the sights much written about by globe-trotting notetakers in the quarter. Organized sightseeing tours may be made through Chinatown with licensed guides, but visitors can wander securely about at will. It is no longer the subterranean Chinatown of opium-scented years, but it is still the most interesting foreign quarter in America. Charles Dana Gibson called it a bit of Hongkong and Canton caught in a Western frame.
By continuing out Grant avenue to Columbus avenue the stroller visiting Chinatown reaches the street that places him in the heart of the Latin Quarter, its Italian and French restaurants, and its manners and customs that make it an epitome of Naples and Rome.
In the Greek settlement in the vicinity of Third and Folsom streets you will see narghile water pipes displayed in the windows alongside Russian brasses and Byzantine ware. If you crave the cooking of Attica and the honey-sweets of the Grecian archipelago you can get them here.
What city built on hills has not been exalted in song and legend? San Francisco, like Athens, Jerusalem, Rome and Naples, has the spell that comes from setting one’s house on a high place. Those who can look out over the world are those who dominate it.
History shows that every three hundred years a great city arises at some very necessary and strategic point on the international highway. Such an inevitable world city is San Francisco. Whether it is the ragged slope of Telegraph Hill, the heights of Twin Peaks, the rolling green-brown softness of the Potrero bluffs, or the contours of any of the other high places that confront the visitor approaching from the Bay, the hills of San Francisco arrest the eye and intrigue the imagination.
To the visitor who would comprehend almost at a glance the cycloramic setting of San Francisco the way is easy of access to half a dozen peaks. There are good automobile roads to all of them.
Let him for a start go to Nob Hill, crossed by California street, where the Fairmont Hotel, the Pacific Union Club, Grace Cathedral and many distinctive residences and apartments will engage his attention when it is not occupied with the shipping in the harbor, Goat and Alcatraz islands, and the animated perspectives inside the Golden Gate.
Russian Hill, of which Nob Hill is a southward shoulder, is the habitat of many of the writer and painter folk of San Francisco. It affords superb panoramas of the city and bay. So does Telegraph Hill, whose sides have been scarred to provide rock for the sea wall along which the modern argosies of commerce discharge their cargoes. Views northwesterly from these hilltops suggest the Bay of Naples.