Hidden stairs of S.F. & other surprises

Looking up the steps
Image via Wikipedia

With friends in town, we decided to do the city. I’d heard about the hidden stairs walks and so googled to find them. We ended up with a spectacular and quirky trip up the Filbert steps (all 384 of them) from the Levi Strauss Plaza at Embarcadero to the base of Coit Tower. The steps take you past quirky homes that pockmark the steep path. Halfway up, we saw an open house sign and wandered down a secret street to a gorgeous two bedroom home remodeled from an S.F. Earthquake survivor. The architect remodeled with a painter’s eye, maximizing natural light and using interior color to brilliant effect. But, oh, after fantasizing living there for a minute, I realized there is no way to bring in groceries except by climbing all those stairs! No garage, no access street just a brilliant little hideaway. For someone else.

So, onward and upward we marched. Finally, we arrived at Coit Tower with its fantastic city views and even more remarkable WPA era murals. How timely to see these larger than life frescos dedicated to the working class who built this country. Images range from the acricultural workers to the smelters, the bus boys to the telegraph operators, the waitresses to the welders and so many nameless workers who built the cities and factories that powered the 20th century. Larger than life murals with undertones of politics, you can stare forever, discovering vignettes the painters told through their vivid compositions and juxtapositions.  Seeing the Coit Tower murals is free. If you want to take the elevator to the top, however, there’s a charge. We didn’t  since the views surrounding the base of the tower are already spectacular and kept our cameras busy.

We then headed down to North Beach to enjoy the cafes and shops of  little Italy. We took Vallejo hill back down to the car past more interesting homes and open houses. There is another stairway–  Greenwich Steps that we missed walking this trip. Another surprise staircase for another visit.

Fresh air, secret paths, hidden stairwells, gorgeous views. And takeout Thai food devoured at home as we watch the Oscars. Now, that’s a day!


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