The weather forecast was not good, 60% change of rain with temperatures in the low 50′s. We decided though, come hell or high water, we would go up to the city today. For the past few weeks we have been cooped up at home either due to rain or sickness.
At 6:30 AM we set off, just as it was getting light. A quick breakfast stop in San Carlos and it’s one short hop to the city.
Tom loves taking photos of run down industrial areas, so we turned off the freeway at Mariposa. After a circuitous route down dead end streets and over appalling road surfaces, we end up on 3rd and we turn into Amodor. We park in the shadow (well we would well have been in shadow if the sun were shining) of a huge concrete eyesore with a sign outside saying Bodemix Concrete. As it is cold and wet outside, I decided to stay in the car and write my journal while Tom took his photos. He was soon back because it started to rain.
We then had to make a decision whether we would attempt a staircase walk or make our way to the Golden Gate Park and the De Young Museum. I looked up at the sky and I could see blue patches ahead so the staircase walk it would be. We set off down the Embarcadero, past the ballpark and assorted sculptures. I did notice the two ladies made out of scrap metal were gone and a large spider in their place. I wonder where the ladies went. Tom and I both liked that one.
We parked in Sansome Street near the Levi Plaza at a parking meter. As it’s a Sunday, we don’t have to put any money in the meter. First port of call was Levi Plaza where we took photos of the fountain and also of the staircase in front of us and Telegraph Hill with Coit Tower at the top.
The Filbert Staircase must be the most well known stairway in San Francisco but today there are not many people around. I guess that is due not only to the weather but also to the fact that it is only 9 am on a Sunday morning and Superbowl Sunday to boot so I’m sure most people are still tucked up in their warm beds. The reason this location is so well known is because of the film ‘The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill‘. We did see a couple of parrots and heard an awful lot more.
The first part of the staircase is concrete and it rises steeply up the hill. The staircase is wet and there is a sign warning that the steps can be slippery when it rains. There is a lot of vegetation clinging to the hillside and it gave off a pleasant aroma in the damp atmosphere.
The second part of the steps are wooden. On either side are gardens with houses set back. What must it be like to live on such a steep hill with the only access being via a staircase? Where do they keep their cars? How do they move furniture in and out?
Bisecting the stairway halfway up on the right is Napier Lane. This, of course, is just a boardwalk leading to several homes. Occasionally we stop to catch our breath and to take a few photos. Behind us we can see the bay, Treasure Island and the Bay Bridge. Near the top is another boardwalk, this one called Darrell Place. Nearby is a sign ‘in appreciation of Grace Marchant for her unselfish, devoted energy in the beautification of Filbert Gardens’.
At the top of the steps we come to Montgomery. Take a close look at the building to the right. It has a huge panel depicting a man holding a globe on his shoulder. You will also see a picture of Humphrey Bogart in a second floor window. This is the location of his film, costarring Lauren Bacall, called ‘Dark Passage’ made in 1947. On the opposite side of the road just to the right is a small mural of a toy poodle called Ginger.
We carried on climbing up to Coit Tower. There are roughly 450 steps from Levi Plaza up to the top. The last 65 have names engraved into the rises. The view is incredible from the top. The Transamerica Pyramid rises majestically to the south and the Ferry Building looks tiny in the distance. From the other side looking north are good views of Angel Island and Alcatraz.
The Coit Memorial Tower was erected in 1933. Inside there is a huge floor to ceiling mural round the lift shaft. Each panel shows how life was back in 1934 when it was painted by ‘The Artists of San Francisco’. On one side is a street sign where you see someone being mugged, a road accident and lots of people going about their everyday activities. One interesting observation is a newspaper stand showing the names of all the newspapers available back then. Another wall shows farming and agricultural workers, including orange, apricot and grape pickers.
In the center of the building is a gift shop where you can purchase tickets to go to the top of the tower for, I guess, an even better view of the city. The fare is $4.50 a head for adults, which seems a little steep to me and I doubt whether I would fork out that amount of money even if I could steel myself for the trip.
As we exited the tower it was starting to rain. We would have liked to go further on the stairways. Nearby are the Greenwich Steps and the steps from Union to Green, but we were worried about being caught in the rain. So we decided to get back to the car as quickly as possible and hurried back the way we came. Just as well, because it started to rain heavily just after we started our journey home. We’ll be back.
February 05 2008 04:45 pm | Special Places