Stairways of San Francisco

Posted On: March 16, 2011
By: ffdadmin

San Francisco is a city known for our hills, so an appropriate corollary might be “San Francisco, the city of Stairs.”


stairs by nahlinse, on Flickr

Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, unless you happen to be training for a marathon or other long distance event and are looking for some intense calorie-burning workout spots. Over the weekend, Carl Nolte wrote a great column at sfgate about the stairways of San Francisco. His column focuses on Adah Bakalinsky, who he describes as the Poet Laureate of San Francisco’s stairway streets. One of my favorite pieces from the article is below:

Walking is her passion. “I’ve always walked,” she said. “Now I walk with children and get them to notice things.”

Her favorite activity, she said, is “exploring something new I didn’t see before.”

Adah is 87 now, with thousands of street steps on her resume. She lives on the eighth floor of an apartment building and walks up the stairs most days. But not all. “Sometimes,” she said cheerily, “I take the elevator.”

Serendipity is her favorite word, finding something unexpected. I know what she means. Posted on the outside of a house at the top of the narrow Montcalm Street stairway the other afternoon was a poem to a child as yet unborn; a new life at the top of the steps.

Read more:

The stairways of San Francisco are sprinkled all over the city, although according to the article Bernal Heights has the most. On my many outings in the city, I’ve stumbled across a few of these delightful stairway treats and they always bring a smile to my eye. They feel to me like an overlooked treasure that time has forgotten about, never modernizing them with an escalator, elevator or some other modern time and effort saving amenity. It is a wonderful “only in San Francisco” treat that you should be sure to partake of, particularly on a warm and sunny San Francisco day.


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