I knew this would be quite a hike, so I grabbed a Jamba Juice (conveniently located just a few blocks away and in the direction I had to go from my home), turned up Pandora, and started marching. I decided to just walk to Russian Hill because it's only like 1.5 miles and it would have taken me 45 minutes to get there on a bus.
I started at Polk Street and Broadway and headed back toward Lombard Street. I had to start at Polk and Broadway because the book I'm using as my guide told me to stop at this one cafe because they had croissants "as good as any in Paris." I certainly hope that the croissants in Paris are better than this one. If I wasn't so cheap I actually wouldn't have finished it. The meringue was yummy though.
I headed west toward Lombard Street because I had to include one of the most famous landmarks in San Francisco: The Crookedest Street. Marc and I had walked up it back when we first visited San Francisco, but I decided the world would be a better place if I just walked down it. But first, I had to walk up Lombard Street from the other side.
I have a confession to make: I didn't go to Telegraph Hill on this day.
I had already been.
It's a hard climb and my knees were tired.
It was foggy...and cold.
I didn't want to pay the fee to go up the elevator to the top (I could buy two cupcakes!)
When I went before it was an absolutely beautiful day and I already had pictures.
Am I a fraud? I'm sorry.
I'll move on, hoping you'll forgive me for bringing in old content.
But if you come to San Francisco, it's totally worth making the trek up there. It is not for the faint - it's really a steep climb with lots of stairs. But there's pretty benches all along the way and at least it doesn't get too hot here! The view from the top is so beautiful.
Telegraph Hill is another of San Francisco's 44 hills, and it was originally called Loma Alta ("high hill") by the Spaniards. I always love how literal and practical Spanish names are. It was also known as Goat Hill (I couldn't find why?) and early on had a highly Irish demographic. The hill received the Telegraph distinction when a semaphore (a windmill-like structure that acted as a signaling device - like a telegraph - but with two bars extending from the center to make different formations - signals) was erected on top of the hill in 1849. The purpose of the semaphore was to signal to the city what kind of ships were entering the Golden Gate. The structure had two moveable arms that, depending on their position, indicated a vessel type (steamer, sailing, etc.). In 1850, the tower signaled that the Oregon was entering the Golden Gate with news of California's new statehood. The system became obsolete when the electrical telegraph was invented in 1862.
Telegraph Hill is known for a flock of feral red-masked parakeets, popularized by the book and documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Legend says that these were escaped (or emancipated) house pets that bred and propagated in the wild and took up residence in the area. There is a ban from feeding the parrots (2007) but most residents object and do it anyway, because San Franciscians don't have to follow rules.
Of course the main attraction of Telegraph Hill is Coit Tower.
The tower now makes a distinct mark upon San Francisco's skyline and offers breathtaking views of downtown, the Bay, and the bridges. Inside the tower you can see murals painted by New Deal unemployed artists funded under the Public Works of Art project. You can see the murals for free and there's a fee to go up to the rotunda of the tower.