Today promises to be bright and sunny so we decided to drive to San Francisco and do one of the staircase walks from’ Stairway Walks in San Francisco’ by Adah Bakalinsky. I picked an area neither of us has ever been to – Diamond Heights. We set Molly (our nickname for the GPS) to get us onto Diamond Heights Blvd and, apart from one small misunderstanding on our part, she did it.
(Click on the image for a larger version)
There were few people around when we set off on the walk, heading south on Diamond Heights Blvd. We soon came to a view over Noe Valley to the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. A sharp turn left onto Diamond Street still took us downhill but we started to climb when we turned right onto Beacon. Beacon skirts an open space area called Billy Goat Hill and the views over the bay and the Bay Bridge were outstanding.
Halfway along Beacon we came to our first stairway called the Harry Stairway. Without our guidebook we would have missed it. It is a long stairway, wooden at the top and concrete at the bottom. It is an actual street much like Filbert Stairway, so we passed the front doors and along the sides of residential gardens. It is one of the more interesting stairways in the city.
At the bottom we turned right on Laidley and passed some interesting houses. One the locals call the Sandcastle House and one called the Owl House. The guidebook tells the history of 192-194 Laidley. It is called the Bell Mystery House. As Adah Bakalinsky explains ‘The death of the owner……. occurred under mysterious consequences’. While we stood opposite looking at the house, a local lady, who has lived in the area since 1957 and who was out walking her dog, stopped to talk to us. She told us the white house next door is called the Bank of America building. I guess the nickname is given for the shape rather than the color as the real Bank of Ameria building is dark brown and black.
Following directions from the book, we turned left on Fairmont and descended a steep hill to Whitney, where we turned right.
I read in the book that a slight detour along Chenery would bring us to a couple of coffee houses. As we hadn’t had anything to eat or drink, we decided to investigate.
After a fortifying breakfast at Tyger’s Coffee House (see previous blog) we returned to our walk. When we returned back on our stairway walk we turned left on Miguel. Just as well we had some sustenance inside us as it was a very steep climb up the street to Bemis. There was no stairway here but there could have been. On Bemis we turned left and almost immediately right up the Amista Stairway. This was also a steep climb up an uninspiring concrete stairway but we turned to enjoy the view every now and then.
At the top we found ourselves on Everson. As we walked along Everson we greeted and were greeted by the locals who were either working in their front yards or walking their dogs. Everybody is really friendly. We passed another large open space with views south towards the San Bruno Mountain.
On our right was the Walter Haas Park. It was a very lovely park with a basketball court and a really nice childrens’ playground. Next to the playground is another good view of the city. The staircase was made out of concrete and as the guidebook said it was made out of railroad ties I’m guessing it had been constructed recently.
At the top we were back on Diamond Heights Blvd and could have turned right to take us back to the car but we decided to walk a little further. The guidebook said to turn left along Diamond Heights Blvd and turn right onto Berkeley but we took a small detour by crossing over and walking along Gold Mine to the Onique Stairway. It was another steep climb up a concrete stairway and we could see the Sutro Tower not too far away.
We continued along Topaz. passing more houses. We saw a young girl, probably about 10 years old, washing the family car out in the road in bare feet. Tucked away behind a bush two women sat in deckchairs keeping their eyes on her. I remarked that they had her well trained and they laughed. The girl looked like she was having fun, lathering away and getting thoroughly soaked in the process. I just hope she got a bit extra in her allowance for all her hard work.
Soon we were back on Gold Mine and it was just a short distance back to the car. Tom and I really enjoyed our walk in the sunshine today. We saw some wonderful views and meet quite a few of the locals. All in all, it was good fun.
November 26 2008 08:32 am | Neighborhoods