Today, I explore loved places in San Francisco
and take my cue from Gary Kamiya, author of
Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco
In his chapter "Stairway to Heaven"
he writes about staircases in San Francisco
and the glory of them, blurring the lines between
public and private,
perhaps secular and sacred.
He then specifically talks about the famous Filbert Steps.
"San Francisco is filled with steps and staircases, shortcuts and obscure passages. These walkways constitute a kind of alternative and secret grid, a human-size way of moving through the city. There is something playful and gratuitous about steps. They turn grown-ups into kids, and the city into a giant backyard. A delicious, slightly illicit quality hangs over the stairways; walking on them has a faint whiff of climbing over the neighbor's fence, an essential tactic in reclaiming one's city and one's soul. They blur the sharp boundary between public and private space that makes urban life alienating. They off an escape from the abstract machinery of the city."
"What makes the Filbert Steps so beautiful is the way they mediate between and harmonize the human world and the natural one. That harmony is epitomized by the gardens that surround them, which must be among the most stunning gardens on any public passageway in the world. From those lush gardens you have a tree-filtered view to the wharves of the Embarcadero and the bustling bay. Standing on these old, worn, wooden steps, next to some of the oldest houses in the city, you can almost hear the footsteps of a wandering 49er, or a 1930s longshoreman walking home from the docks. The two little wooden lanes that intersect the steps, Darrell Place and Napier Lane, are hideaways so magical there should be a permanent rainbow pointing at them...On those worn steps, surrounded by fuchsia and redwood and magnolia and cypress and roses, the city fades away. You and this verdant dell are all that's left, a green thought in a green shade."