More hill climbing in the City; weather permitting

San Francisco is a city of hills; from Bernal Heights to Sutro Heights, Buena Vista to Diamond Heights, Twin Peaks, to Mt. Davidson. I forget how many there are, but I’ve been on all of them. However, the three most famous hills in San Francisco are the three hills bordered by Market Street, Van Ness Avenue, and the waterfront, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, and Telegraph Hill. This past weekend, albeit gloomy weather half the time, I visited all three for some picture taking. The quality of some of my pictures speaks for the weather, but it wasn’t bad for the most part. Saturday was overcast, but actually rather warm for December, so I was able to do some exploring on my e-bike. Sunday was a different story so you won’t have to be a rocket scientist or even an income tax preparer to tell which pictures were taken Saturday or Sunday. There are a lot of trees and plants in these pictures, so I’ll dedicate this post to my blog friend, Tony. (Thumbnail images)


We’ll begin the climbing to the top “av owld Telygraft Hill”. That’s Wallace Irwin’s poetry for “of old Telegraph Hill”, but you’ve probably guessed that. These are views from the Coit Tower steps, pre and post Columbus Statue. Whether he massacred Native Americans or not will have to be debated by scholars; the evidence doesn’t look good for Columbus. However, while they were removing the statue in 2020, why didn’t they cut down those trees blocking the views? With Coit Tower closed indefinitely, you can’t see much from here anymore; although, you wouldn’t have been able to see much from here yesterday through the on and off rain. The vintage picture is from circa 1945. (

The view down Russian Hill’s Hyde Street in 1973: Yeah, you’ll see a few cable cars in the vintage photos on this post. (


Where Powell Street crosses California Street on Nob Hill: I couldn’t get a date on the vintage picture, but it looks like the mid 1970s. (


The view down Broadway from Russian Hill in 1952: The rectangle structure in the center of both pictures is the eastern entrance and exit to the Broadway Tunnel, which opened up in 1952. That building with the red, white and blue colors on the right in my picture almost looks like an optical illusion. (


The view from Pioneer Park behind Coit Tower, circa 1945: You’ll spot the Bay Bridge and Ferry Building a little easier in the vintage picture than in my rainy redo. That was probably fog in the old picture. (


“Well, anyway, did you get the picture, honey?”

Lombard Street on Russian Hill in August of 1956. (SF Gate/SF Chronicle)

Sacramento Street approaching Polk Street in 1941 on the less famous western side of Nob Hill: There’s never any parking around here even during a pandemic, so I had to snap my picture through the rain while driving. Well, at least I got the old Palo Alto Hotel neon sign in. Those two cable cars on the now gone Sacramento Street Line appear to be going in the same direction. I’ll have to do some research on that. (


One of the prettiest and least visited view spots in San Francisco is Ina Coolbrith Park on Russian Hill. In the vintage picture from the early 1970s, none of the Embarcadero Center buildings have been erected yet, except for possibly the Hyatt Regency Hotel. (

One thought on “More hill climbing in the City; weather permitting

  • Ah, my own post!
    You know, as much as I enjoy trees, there can be too many. I remember bits of scenery in San Francisco that were obscured by trees that should not have been allowed to get as big as they were. Weirdly, I remember homes in Pacific Heights that had their otherwise spectacular views partly obscured by their own landscape! The growth happened slowly over a long period of time, so the loss of view was not so obvious until I had to recommend renovation of the landscapes. Anyway, those Monterey cypress on Telegraph Hill really should be removed before they get any bigger. I do not remember what else is there. I think there were some Hollywood juniper closer to Coit Tower that could stay without compromising the scenery. They trees flanking Hyde Street are nice because they are not much taller than the buildings, and leave some of the scenery open. I do not know what they are though. They look like olive trees, but I doubt that they are. They got my attention because they look like Eucalyptus torquata, which stays quite compact like that. I doubt they really are; but that is what they resemble. The pollarded sycamores on Lombard Street are impressive. They are exemplary examples of how effective pollarding can be. I mean, after all these decades, those trees have not changed much. Other arborists insist that the technique is inappropriate, and should never be used. Technically, that is correct. It ruins the structural integrity of the trees, so that they can not be allowed to grow on their own afterward. However, if pollarded annually, like these trees have been, they can be maintained for a very long time, and can last longer than ‘undamaged’ trees, which would have gotten far too big for this site decades ago.

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