March 5, 2007

San Francisco Stairways #8 (This one's in Berkeley)

I was visiting a customer in Berkeley, on Alvarado Road near the Claremont, and happened upon Willow Walk. It's much like scores of other Berkeley and Oakland stairs, connecting two levels of the streets which follow the contours of the hills. But what's interesting is its connection with Sunset Trail, a very long path that runs horizontally between Willow Walk and Eucalyptus Path, another stair a few hundred yards further north. It's like an alley running behind the houses, only it's a long shady path... [For other SF Stairway posts, click here.]

Willow Walk, Berkeley, CA

Posted by John Weidner at 6:07 AM

February 4, 2007

San Francisco Stairways #7

The top of these stairs is at Broadway and Lyon. In fact the stairs are Lyon Sreet itself, for two steep blocks. There isn't anywhere to stand and take a picture of the whole thing. The picture is taken from the top, looking down the hill. You see most of the first block.

The formality of the stairs and gardens is very pleasing. You could call this another piece of "pre-nihilist architecture." As is that dome in the background seen against the Bay. That's the Palace of Fine Arts, the last remaining building from a world's fair, the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition. It has a bit of special meaning to me, because my grandfather, Simon Peterson, was a new and poor immigrant from Sweden in that year. He was living in Visalia, California, and wanted to see the great fair, and managed to do so. He had left Germany, where he had been living, in 1914, on the last ship he could have got out on before being caught up in WWI...

(Other stairway posts here.)
Stairway walk at Broadway and Lyon

This Google satellite view has the top of the stairs at the very top of the picture...

Stairway walk at Broadway and Lyon, Google map

Posted by John Weidner at 4:00 PM

August 29, 2006

San Francisco Stairways #6

This is just a little bitty stair and path at the very top of 3rd Ave, but Charlene and I used to live nearby, and have pleasant memories of this neighborhood...

stairs at top of 3rd Ave, SF

* Update: Map added. Includes area of yeterday's rampage by the crazy Afghan guy!

Here's the path at the top of the stairs, giving access to several houses.
Path at top of 3rd Ave, SF
I'm adding a map. Andrew, the whole area in and alongside the old Presidio is great for exploring. The circle next to the arrow in where Sen. Diane Feinstein lives, in the big half-timbered house.

This is also the area of yesterday's rampage. The Jewish Community Ctr is at California and Presidio. I was at California and Spruce yesterday evening, but had no idea that anything was going on...Bush and Pine Sreets end where it says "Western Addition."

3rd Ave Map.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:10 PM

June 18, 2006

San Francisco Stairways #5

This is a minor climb to a little spot I like, called Tank Hill. It's easy to miss; I drove past it hundreds of times before I explored the obscure little stair at Twin Peaks Blvd and Graystone Terrace, which looks almost like a stair leading to someone's house...

Tank Hill, SF

It leads to a delightful knoll with a great view to the north and east over the City.

Tank Hill view
This is not a great picture, but these are the first experimental shots with my Father's Day gift, a new Canon Powershot SD-30, which I think I'm going to like very much! It's tiny, so I can just carry it with me all the time. (I'll probably never see another interesting thing in my life!)

This is a view of the hill (the green knoll center right) taken from the stairs I blogged here. Twin Peaks Blvd is the road in the middle. It curves around the hill to the right, and the stair is on the other side. The previous pic was taken near where the white house peaks through a gap in the trees.
View of Tank Hill from 17th St
The hill at the upper left of the picture is the edge of Twin Peaks...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:03 PM

May 9, 2006

San Francisco Stairways #4

This one's for Lyle...

These steps are on Mt Davidson, which is probably technically a park, but is really a steep hill covered with a near- jungle including lots of Eucalyptus and Western Sword Ferns and Blackberries. it's a fun place to hike.
Mt Davidson in San Francisco
Mt Davidson is also well-known because it's the hill with the giant cross on top...and you know how, in movies, vampires and evil creatures shrivel in consternation when a cross is brandished at them? Well....

I always get a sort of grim laugh when I see the signs the city has posted around the hill...
Mt Davidson sign about cross
That's a picture of the cross on the left.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:23 PM

May 7, 2006

San Francisco Stairways #3

Well, actually this stair is not in San Francisco. It's on Angel Island, in San Francisco Bay, which is where the Weidners spent the weekend, travelling over on the ferry and hiking in to one of the small number of campsites...

Stair on Angel Island trail

We got our favorite spot again, campsite #3. (You have to reserve them way in advance.)

Angel Island campsite

Posted by John Weidner at 4:09 PM

April 15, 2006

San Francisco Stairways #2

I've driven past these steps, at 17th St and Clayton, a thousand times and never stopped. They don't look like they lead anywhere interesting.
SF stair, 17th to Upper Terrace

But I was wrong....

They led me to a cute tiny hilltop park on Upper Terrace, with a mystery monument whose inscription has worn away...
Upper Terrace2
And then to another set of stairs going down the other side...
Upper Terrace3
The whole area's awesomely charming...
SO, am I completely happy? Well, no. What was missing from the picture? Children. I walked about 10 blocks and didn't see a single lost toy, or a child's car-seat in any car.
This sort of thing always leads me to melancholy Blue State meditations. Although in this case it's probably mostly a matter of economics. You gotta be a DINK to be able to afford a house here.

Stair to Upper Terrace map

Posted by John Weidner at 12:32 PM

April 7, 2006

San Francisco Stairways #1--Mosaic Steps...

San Francisco is a hilly place, and one of its charms are the many stairway walks to be found here. At least 350. Some of them are exceedingly beautiful places, lined with charming gardens and old houses that are sometimes only accessible via the stairs. There's even a book on the subject, Stairway Walks in San Francisco by Adah Bakalinsky.

The various stairs in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood are utilitarian concrete affairs, fun to climb but not attractive. Except this one, at 16th Ave at the top of Moraga St, which has recently been transformed...

Mosaic-covered steps in SF
The tiles of sea creatures you see inset in the design all have names of different neighbors, or local businesses....Here's a link to the project.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:27 PM