As promised, here is Part 2 of Item 3 of the Bucket List, Climb the Filbert Street and Greenwich Street steps to check out the view from Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. This post will just focus mostly on the stairs part of the adventure; you can read all about the history and experience of Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill from my last blog post here.
Full disclosure: I have actually walked the Filbert Street steps several times before, so this bucket list item isn't a new one for me. Living just 5 blocks away from Telegraph Hill, climbing the Filbert Street stairs is something I do sometimes when I don't feel like doing a real, long workout. The stairs are challenging and you will definitely work up a sweat, but you're not going to burn a ton of calories just walking up them once. If you do feel like challenging yourself though, you can always do the steps twice, or do what I did last week in an attempt to get my butt into gear after returning from my honeymoon, run to the base of the steps (which is about 1 mile from my house) and then do the steps. Together this routine doesn't feel like I'm cheating myself TOO much out of a workout.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I started this particular adventure by walking from my house up Filbert Street to Pioneer Park at the top of Telegraph Hill. After going to the top of Coit Tower, I turned to the stairs segment of the adventure. I decided to walk down the Greenwich Street stairs first, then back up via Filbert Street. The way this area is set up, Filbert and Greenwich "Streets," in the sense of driving streets, don't connect from Telegraph Hill down towards the Embarcadero side of San Francisco. However, on both "streets" there are sets of stairs you can walk down, which are dotted by lush gardens and pretty condos and apartment buildings. I'm not totally sure why, but for some reason these steps have been referred to mostly as the "Filbert Street steps" rather than the Filbert and Greenwich Street steps. In any event, you can choose to do up or down either set, and both are pretty, steep, and a solid hike.
When you start from the top of Telegraph Hill and descend one of the sets of stairs, it feels so incredibly easy, and you get down so quickly, you can't imagine that the walk back up would be very hard. But if this is what you thought, then my friend, you would be wrong.
These parrots are actually "red-masked parakeets," otherwise known as "cherry-headed conures." They fly all over the city, and can be easily recognized by their green bodies and red heads as well as their extremely loud and unique squawk. We see them fly over our roof all the time, and a tree across the street from my building is a favorite hangout spot for them. They're a pretty fun and strange addition to the city, and you're likely to hear them even if you don't see them when you're on or around Telegraph Hill.
The Filbert Street steps are also well-known as the being the focal point for the movie "Dark Passage" starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, made in 1947. The Malloch apartment building, which resides on Montgomery Street at the mid-way point of the Filbert Street steps, is the art-deco apartment building in which Lauren Bacall's character lived in the film.
As I mentioned, the mid-way point of the steps is Montgomery Street, which gives you a much needed rest stop, since you will very likely be sweating and panting at this point. Thankfully, there are several things on Montgomery Street to look at, so you can use these sights as a pretext to take a little break. The aforementioned Malloch apartment building is here, which is not only notable for its place in the film, but also for it's unique art deco style, complete with plaster images adorning the exterior. These images include a Spanish explorer with a telescope raised to one eye, a bare-chested worker holding a globe, and most interesting of all, a robed woman, the spirit of California, standing in front of California represented as a map.
20 yards or so down the street, towards the Greenwich Street stairs, I also ran into this interesting visual:
I should mention that the whole trip up the steps is not only beautiful because of the gardens that surround it, but also because at any minute you can look over your shoulder and see dramatic views of the bay, the Bay Bridge, and downtown. It really is a great way to take in the views of the city while also getting a workout in.
Not a bad first item to check off my bucket list! I am definitely looking forward to doing more adventures and checking more items off my list in the coming year or so. Next stop: Asia SF to celebrate my 30th birthday!