Bella Vista hill is part of the big Pleistocene alluvial fan that sprawls across the middle of Oakland, as shown by the “Qpaf” code on the geologic map.
The “Qmt” code is the marine terrace I’ve discussed before. The fan is dissected by modern streams into several lobes, which take their position in today’s cityscape as distinct topographic hills as seen in Google Maps topography:
Bella Vista hill lies in the polygon defined by Park Boulevard, East 34th Street, MacArthur Boulevard, 14th Avenue, East 18th Street and 8th Avenue. All of those street run in valleys or saddles, except that East 18th is on a break in slope. The numbers refer to the following photos, taken from across or in the valley of 14th Avenue Creek.
The hill is low on its bayward side, as shown here from E. 22nd Street.
It has a corrugated surface, such that 9th, 10th and 12th Avenues run on high ground and 8th, 11th and 13th run up declivities. Higher up on the hill, the ground is steeper and the allee of palms marking the former Francis Smith estate is the defining feature of the hill.
The top of the hill has two eminences. The more dramatic one is on the south where Highland Hospital frowns down upon the stream valley.
Hospitals, like schools, were traditionally sited to take advantage of fresh air. Highland Hospital took its very name from this practice. Here’s a view of the whole hospital complex on the southern boss of the hill.
The northern knob is higher, exceeding 200 feet elevation. At its high end, 10th Avenue becomes Bella Vista Avenue and curves across this peak. Old palm trees from the Smith estate mark it from a distance.
Borax Smith knew what he was doing when he picked this hilltop for his home base. The hills on the fan to the south are a bit higher, but the views to every other direction were unimpaired from that spot. If you want to walk the crest of this hill, go up 10th or 12th Avenue and jog across to 13th and take it all the way up to the I-580 overcrossing.