Finding the Filbert Steps

posted by Sharon December 10, 2013 19 Comments
San Francisco Filbert Steps

Have you thought about how often people you’ve never met do something that brings
you joy? This is a season for giving gifts to family and friends. Some gifts are for
our community rather than for a specific person. When we hang lights on the eaves,
everyone who passes will enjoy them. When we go caroling, all within earshot will warm
with holiday spirit.

We found a place on our trip to San Francisco where a small group of folks decided
to brighten the lives of anyone who comes by. It’s known as the Filbert Steps, and it
is a well hidden secret in this tourist town. I had read about these 400 (!) steps up a
cliff, leading to the iconic Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. Even armed with directions, we
couldn’t find the steps. Here’s our view as we wandered the streets below the tower. So
where are the steps?

I finally asked a local woman out for a walk if she could direct us to the Filbert Steps. .She told us we were close, just go a few blocks that way and turn right. She also said to look for the 18th century homes among the more modern as we climbed. These are vintage homes built by whalers. Their wives would hang out on the decks overlooking the bay, watching for their men’s safe return. The steps are in several sections. That’s good, because you can’t see how far you have to go.

This being a city where the unconventional is welcome, we found surprises along every stretch. A tiger hidden in the vegetation. A parking meter in a garden. A street sign and fire hydrant where there’s no street. A bench almost buried by autumn leaves.

Flowers and unique gates are there, too.

We met a resident who told us he’s going to make a new, larger sign so more people would find these stairs. Really? I figured those whose homes line the long stairway would resent our intrusion. No, they welcomed us and others who happen to find Filbert. They want us to delight in their gardens, sit and soak in the ambience. The “secret” gardens are a gift, meant to delight one and all.

We reached the top and joined the crowds around Coit Tower.

Then we eagerly started back down the stairs to make new discoveries. The whaler homes do still sit on the hill, though the whaling ships are only a ghost of history now.

The people who live here along the Filbert Steps are still looking out, though. They’re looking out for visitors like me who want to explore their lovely neighborhood. They are adding joy to the community, and all are welcome to take part.

How about you? Has someone you’ve never even met added delight to your life lately?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The black and white photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture Storm and the photo of Coit Tower is edited with Kim’s texture Rue Marion.

 

Save

Save

You may also like

19 Comments

avatar
Evelyn in Oregon December 10, 2013 at 5:15 am

Amazing! In this day and age, it’s wild to know that private homes are “open” to the fabulous Filbert Steps! Thanks for the beautiful tour….I know I’ll never experience it!

Reply
avatar
a spirit of simplicity December 10, 2013 at 10:28 am

we have a commuter bus that stops in front of our house every morning and every night. we hung a wreath festooned with lights on the porch so that they could be cheered by it. It’s not a very crowded bus. In fact there are only one or two people on it but the driver counts too. And, as we live at the edge of the causeway into town all the townfolks see our cheery Christmas wreath as they come home.

Reply
avatar
Marisol@TravelingSolemates December 10, 2013 at 11:24 am

Hi Sharon, what a lovely post. I have been to San Francisco several times but I have not heard of Filbert Steps. Such a wonderful gesture from the residents to welcome people to the neighborhood. I love the charming things you found along the way – the hyrdrant, the parking meter, the flowers and garden patio. Thanks for sharing about this. I’ll certainly check it out next time I visit SFO.

Reply
avatar
Tamar Strauss-Benjamin December 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm

What a trip!! I so want to go there to see these hidden gems!

Reply
avatar
Melinda December 10, 2013 at 1:47 pm

We just moved away from the SF Bay Area and I’ m embarrassed to say I had never heard of the Filbert steps (although I certainly have photographed Coit Tower). What a wonderful place to seek out and photograph! Your photos are intriguing and lovely- nice job with the texture work! Thanks for introducing me to this area!

Reply
avatar
kim at picking poppies December 10, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Well yes, you added delight to my day with your post…very fun! I have a local nursery where you can in the 8 acres find things like monkeys hanging from a tree or metal cows with a sign that says “got milk”…it’s always an adventure going there.

Reply
avatar
Mama Zen December 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Exquisite shots!

Reply
avatar
Dotti December 10, 2013 at 7:28 pm

What a fascinating place. So glad you shared this and your thoughts with us today.

Reply
avatar
Pat December 11, 2013 at 12:03 am

What a unique and interesting place!

Reply
avatar
Catherine December 11, 2013 at 12:57 am

It’s heartening to learn about such welcoming communities… I regret never having walked these Filbert steps during my visits to San Francisco. Thank you for the history and photo tour, beautiful!

Reply
avatar
carbartz December 11, 2013 at 4:26 am

Fabulous! Thank you for taking us on this tour. Living so close to San Francisco we have wanted to climb up the Filbert Steps, but haven’t done so until now. I hope we will do it in the new year, your post made me want to do it even more.

Reply
avatar
Prairie Jill December 11, 2013 at 7:17 am

Fascinating! What a great tour – thank you. Love that parking meter!

Reply
avatar
Pieni lintu December 11, 2013 at 11:38 am

Beautiful shots!

Thanks for sharing! <3

Reply
avatar
Salma December 11, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Very interesting place. I love the tiger hidden in the bushes 🙂
Happy Wednesday!

Reply
avatar
Angie December 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm

What a lovely story and how wonderful those steps! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

Reply
avatar
mscarletti December 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

First of all, looking at those steps just makes me feel tired. And yes, my daughter brought me joy today!

Reply
avatar
kim December 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm

How fun! Looks like a wonderful place to mill about….after the climb of course!

Reply
avatar
Paul O Rourke December 12, 2013 at 12:16 am

Sharon, that is a lovely description of finding your way around and the photographs are very good.

Paul.

Reply
avatar
jade December 13, 2013 at 3:20 am

I love the kindness of strangers too. I just read this story that made me smile: http://www.askyourdadblog.com/2013/12/my-favorite-christmas-story.html

Reply

Leave a Comment