the stairways of russian hill

I have a small fixation with the neighborhood of Russian Hill, the hill directly to the north of mine (Nob Hill). It started when I first started exploring outside my own neighborhood and realized how many pretty houses with great views were on Russian Hill. Then, I started coming across its many staircases, walked through its small gardens and discovered a couple of “hidden” laneways (not quite so hidden as some of them, most notably Macondray Lane, are actually in San Francisco guidebooks), and I became completely enchanted with this flowering, idyllic neighborhood. It’s European-like, with charming homes that sit off the steps, hidden from passers-by by wooden gates and lush shrubbery. Many of the staircases are beautifully landscaped, with small ponds and fountains, palm trees and lots of flowers.

There is a long loop I walk that takes me up or down all the stairways that I know of, to date. It’s 3.4 miles, round-trip, and depending on how often I stop to enjoy the view of the bay and how much I jog versus walk, it takes an hour or two. This is a fantastic time of year to do it, as flowers are blooming everywhere.

I start by heading east from my apartment on Pine Street to Mason Street, and then I turn north for eight blocks, which takes me to Vallejo. This is the first staircase – a beauty, which leads into Ina Coolbrith Park with its wonderful hilltop perch that affords great bay views.

Click here to follow the rest of my route in photos.

Stairways on Chestnut Street (left) and Green Street (right); click here to follow the rest of my route in photos

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