At long last I had a chance to re-visit one of my very favorite places, the Filbert Steps, on Telegraph Hill in my beloved San Francisco. I always had a feeling that I had left my heart on these steps, and yes indeed I have reconfirmed this sentiment. Best of all, I was so very relieved to see that this unique spot really hasn't changed a bit over the last 20 0r so years. I once lived in San Francisco for a few years and I used to torture myself by walking all the hills and steps I could find and boy was this an amazing find that I visited often!
On previous visits to San Francisco with my kids I would point up to Coit tower from the Piers on Market Street and say, let's go up there! I was always met with groans, so this time I took things into my own hands and said "we're going, you're gonna love it!" Hup two three, off we go. Now where were those steps exactly? Phew, I found them, and our little adventure began. (The steps are a continuation of Filbert Street on the steep Eastern slope of Telegraph Hill.)
Note: As you can see by the tour bus parked at the bottom in the above photo, tour groups take their folks down the stairs, but that isn't nearly as much fun!
Working-class Italianate style cottages were built on boardwalks pre 1900's, and exist today almost exactly as they did when first built. Of course the lush greenery is something the residents have worked hard to establish and maintain, in its heyday the hill was strewn with trash! There is no car access to these homes, who access is the Filbert Steps, either from above or from below, which is just across the street from Levi Plaza, (you know like the jeans.) This neighborhood was spared in the earthquake and subsequent fire of 1906 due to the gallant efforts of many of its inhabitants.
Isn't this garden absolutely gorgeous? And it smelled heavenly too......
Filbert Steps is packed with charm.
Oh my, be still my beating heart (on account of all those stairs, ya know) this is breathtaking!
And if your address is Napier Lane, you can be assured that you are living on an authentic boardwalk!
When you reach the first actual city street, Montgomery Street, be sure to notice this fantastic streamlined moderne deco building with it's original sgrafitto reliefs that depict the building of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.
Continue on up folks, almost there!
Just look at that stunning view and a tiny peek in the distance at the new section of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, completed though not open just yet.
And what might that be peeking above the trees, a large fire hose? No, the resemblence is purely coincidental, this is Coit Tower, built in 1933 with a bequest from a wealthy patron to beautify the city of San Francisco.
Whether or not you choose to go up in the tower (we didn't the line was too long) do enter the lobby and take a look at the interesting historic depression-era (via the New Deal federal employment program for artists) murals which I believe were recently restored having almost succumbed to the San Franciso fog and the wear and tear of life.
Hang out a bit at the base of Coit Tower........
And take a good look at the foggy view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
Now you have two choices, either go down to Grant Street, turn left and walk for about fiveteen minutes into Chinatown (via Little Italy) where you can get a bite to eat (there's even a kosher restuarant!) or if you'd like to return to your starting point, it just so happens there's a parallel set of stairs called the Greenwhich Street Steps, which while not as charming are certainly interesting as well and worth going down. They will take you to a point just a block or two away from your starting point.
So if you're ever in San Francisco, do stop by the Filbert Steps and leave your heart there too.