Life on the Hill: Part 1

3 Nov

I keep meaning to write about my new neighborhood. Each day it seems there are new and interesting discoveries to add to the list of things I want to discuss. So I’ve decided to start with a little history…

Two weeks ago, I moved to Telegraph Hill. Most people (locals included) think I am talking about Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley even though I’ve specified that I’m living in San Francisco. But most SF residents don’t visit this neighborhood. There’s no way to get around the steep streets leading up from North Beach, or the hundreds of steps up Filbert Street from the Historic Waterfront Disctrict. Coit Tower sits at the very top of the hill, and looks over.. pretty much everything. And there’s Julius’ Castle too, a rather nice restaurant with a rather amazing view. Otherwise the area is strictly residential, with a shop and laundromat or two. Hardly the hustle and bustle just a few blocks away in North Beach.

One of the most interesting things about Telegraph Hill, in my opinion, is the eastern cliff face. At the bottom of this side of the hill was the Telegraph Hill Cemetery, where non-catholic sailors were buried over a century ago. The cliff face is evidence of the ballast quary that was once here. I am not sure how much of the hill was removed during that time but the rock is now covered in a thick blanket of blackberry, ivy, fennel and a number of other plants I’ve yet to identify. The various parts of the hill have concentrations of different bushes and trees. A little more to the southeast and there is a clump of strange, straight-branched pines, trees engulfed in ivy and even a few agave.

I saw a mouse on the steps a couple of days ago and I’ve seen some very strange bugs (I took a photo of one of them, it came out terribly blurry!) and had a face off with a fuchsia-headed humming bird and just today a blue jay landed in one of my planters as I was tending to my ivy.  I’ve become familiar with the favorite landing spots of the growing cherry-headed conure flock and noticed how quiet the hill gets when there’s a hawk circling above.

I could go on forever about Telegraph Hill. I’ve lived in San Francisco for 4 years and I feel that for the first time I can honestly say that this neighborhood has made me love San Francisco. And this environment has forced me to be more mindful of my surroundings. I suppose that’s the reason I’m writing about it. Living here, I cannot afford to keep my eyes closed. I just might miss something wonderful.

More to come in future posts. I’ve added some recent Telegraph Hill photos to the flickr stream, including the one of the blurry bug!

And if you’re interested in San Francisco history, check out


2 Responses to “Life on the Hill: Part 1”

  1. Veronique Lalonde November 4, 2007 at 1:09 am #

    Residents might not pay much attention to Telegraph Hill, but us tourists sure do. Coit Tower is a destination. And the parrots! I don’t know how many people have seen The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,, but it’s a wonderful documentary.

    As a gardener, I love your description of the local flora and fauna. Looking forward to part deux!

  2. Veronique Lalonde November 4, 2007 at 1:11 am #

    Argh! I hate the WordPress themes that don’t attach a name to the comment. Seems like a defect to me (says the software developer).

    – Veronique

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