The novella takes place in the Spring of 1896 among some of San Francisco's wealthiest citizens. And there were indeed very wealthy people living in San Francisco. In the late nineteenth century, many of them clustered on Nob Hill, an exclusive neighborhood with breathtaking views. Because the residents were rich, they were called "nobility" or "nabobs", which was eventually shortened to "nob"--hence Nob Hill.
Take Mark Hopkins, for example. He was one of the Big Four who started the Central Pacific Railroad. Here's his home on Nob Hill in the 1880s.
|Mark Hopkins mansion, Nob Hill.|
It's so grand, I used it as the home of one of my secondary characters, Theodora Humphries. Get a look at the foyer:
|Hopkins mansion, interior|
Mr. Hopkins' next door neighbor, by the way, was Governor Leland Stanford of Stanford University fame. He was also one of the railroad's Big Four.
It is just the sort of house my hero's father, Congressman Roger Blair, would find worthy of his high position. Here's a view from one of the windows, which was described as "overlooking both the city and the bay."
Speaking of the bay, here's a photo of the Golden Gate taken by Ansel Adams in 1933, pre-bridge. Many think the Golden Gate Bridge received its name from its bright orange color, but in truth, it was named for the strait of water beneath it.
Unfortunately, every mansion and business on Nob Hill was utterly destroyed by the earthquake and fires of 1906 (except for the granite walls surrounding the homes of the Big Four, including Hopkins and Stanford). The neighborhood maintained (and still maintains) its swanky reputation, but every owner of a great mansion rebuilt elsewhere.
|Stanford's picture gallery. One imagines all these pieces of art were destroyed in 1906. sfpl.org|
There are stories upon stories here, both real and imagined, just one of which is in my novella.
It's also a reminder how few things stay the same over time. We need to appreciate one another and what we've been blessed with now.
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