San Francisco Stairways: Greenwich and Filbert Steps

On prior visits to San Francisco, I felt that I had seen all the major sights in the city. Looking for something new to do, I enlisted help from travel friends on Facebook and Twitter. One response, from Noel Morata, suggested visiting some San Francisco stairways.

San Francisco Stairways: Greenwich Steps and Filbert Steps

Obviously, San Francisco is a hilly city and it makes sense to have staircases built into the hills. I did not even know about the stairways. After learning about these San Francisco hidden gems, I made a point to specifically visit two San Francisco stairways—Greenwich Steps and Filbert Steps.

Greenwich Steps

After walking from my San Francisco hotel through Chinatown and North Beach, I walked up Lombard Street to Coit Tower. Coit Tower is a monument to volunteer firemen atop Telegraph Hill with 360 degree views. It is a steep climb to Coit Tower and next time I would seriously consider riding the convenient public bus.

The entrance to the Greenwich Steps is on the east side of Coit Tower. Once you start descending the Greenwich Steps, you enter a lush, cultivated, canopied area.

San Francisco stairways: Greenwich Steps
Greenwich Steps in San Francisco

The upper section of Greenwich Steps ends at Montgomery Street. There is no evident sign of where to continue until you walk a little bit down Montgomery Street.

San Francisco stairways: Greenwich Steps

Perhaps the most interesting thing to me are the houses along the Greenwich Steps. Along with a fun walk (intense exercise) through nature, you can also explore San Francisco residential architecture.

San Francisco stairways: Greenwich Steps
superior craft work along San Francisco’s Greenwich Steps
San Francisco stairways: Greenwich Steps
Greenwich Stairway in San Francisco

Greenwich Steps continues down to Sansome Street.

The entrance to the Filbert Steps is a short walk south from Greenwich Street. You will walk past the Hult International Business School. On your left, across Sansome Street, is the Levi’s Plaza and a great place to stop for a snack, drink, or meal.

Filbert Steps

The lower section of the Filbert Steps are a steep (pun intended) contrast to the Greenwich Steps. Instead of brick, we now see concrete and metal.

San Francisco Stairways: Filbert Steps
Filbert Steps in San Francisco

Instead of being built into Telegraph Hill, the staircase is open aired.

San Francisco Stairways: Filbert Steps
steep climb up Filbert Stairway in San Francisco

This is the spot of my San Francisco walk when I most hoped an earthquake would not occur. Not sure any picture can convey how steep the Filbert Steps are but here is my best shot.

San Francisco Stairways: Filbert Steps
get that vertigo feeling looking down from Filbert Steps

Feeling vertigo yet?

At the top of this set of stairs, the Filbert Steps does proceed through a residential area, much like on the Greenwich steps. I was much too light headed from the intense climb to bother with many more photos. In fact, I skipped the upper section of the Filbert Steps and stopped at Montgomery Street.

San Francisco Stairways: Filbert Steps
Coit Tower view from Filbert Steps

The final picture I snapped at the Filbert Steps was this mosaic sign on the wall just below Montgomery Street.

San Francisco Stairways: Filbert Steps
tile mosaic sign on Filbert Steps

Later I visited Transamerica Building and the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps.

Have you visited any San Francisco stairways? Have you walked the Greenwich Steps or the Filbert Steps?

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