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#8. Filbert Steps


San Francisco is a city of stairways. Some are stone or brick steps built into hillsides, and others are built wooden steps with decked landings. The Filbert Steps is the one I know best, and it’s a combo.


The steps begin a point not far from the Embarcadero and rise to the top of Telegraph Hill, where sits the tubular edifice of Coit Tower, another of my favorite SF landmarks.


A public garden nips along with them, along with antique wooden houses and decks built into the hillside, especially around picturesque Napier Lane. Who lives here? Good grief, they’re lucky. I think some of this is private garden, but it all jumbles together, and I’m sure the same people care for some of both.




My first impression of San Francisco was the Tales of the City series, which I read the summer of 1998, many years after they’d been published. I didn’t see the city in the flesh until almost 10 years later, but the Filbert Steps fit exactly within the mental parameters I’d painted from having read those books.


(I know the site used in the miniseries was in Russian Hill, but still.)


Oh, and the views are great too, if the fog lifts. These pictures are from two different times of year, and two different years.


I think you need to go there, is all I’m saying.


And every city could use some magical botanical steps at its heart. Why not?