'A walk through the streets of present-day San Francisco - dominated by strenuous climbs and breathtaking descents so steep that stone steps have been fit into sidewalks - might call into question the state of mind of the city's earliest founders,' begins the story in 'Great Houses of San Francisco'. Improbably situated on a 47-square-mile peninsula with 43 peaks, in the 1850s the city was transformed from a small outpost into a nascent metropolis with speed unprecedented anywhere in the world. San Francisco attracted persons of talent nationwide, some already established, others out to prove themselves. With this increasingly strong and sophisticated client base came a demand for significant, sometimes exceptional, architecture. In 'Great Houses of San Francisco', Erin Feher captures the distinctive and eclectic architectural character of the city. Her vivid and elegant essays, illustrated with nearly 300 rarely seen photographs, portray 30 exceptional houses - from the Victorian mansion of Leland Stanford and the historicist palaces of James Flood and Adolph Spreckels to the unique theatricality of Maybeck's Leon Roos house and the modernist duplex for Whitney Warren Jr. by Gardner Dailey - revealing the richness of San Francisco's residential landscape.