Most people recognize Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill as a feature on the San Francisco skyline. Far fewer people have climbed the 378 wooden steps through lush, tropical-like vegetation to get up there. And only a handful of folks and hundreds of wild parrots have had the unique experience of living on that hill. But you can check into 307 Filbert St. on your next visit to San Francisco.
Filbert Street Steps
The most challenging way to reach Coit Tower from Embarcadero is via 378 steep steps. Made of wood, sometimes of concrete, they wind up and up, skimming fragrant rose and blackberry bushes, citrus trees, lush ferns, and a bright riot of nectar flowers where hummingbirds and dragonflies dart. Picturesque “Gold Rush” cottages hug the slopes. Beyond, occasional sweeping views of the bay appear. In early morning and evening, the climb is punctuated by calls from flocks of surprisingly vocal red and green wild parrots perched on overhead wires and tree branches. It’s a walk you won’t soon forget.
A Hollywood Set
Just 18 steps from the top, the parrots of Telegraph Hill fly by 307 Filbert St. all the time. Custom-designed in the mid-’60s by noted architect Henry Hester, the residence caught Hollywood’s attention when chosen by scouts as a location for Julie Christie, George C. Scott, and Richard Chamberlain in director Richard Lester’s (“A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!”) 1968 film, “Petulia.”
Ready to Roll
Two duplex units with wood-burning fireplaces, modern art, audio systems, and knockout San Francisco Bay views are an owner’s-own vacation rental available starting at $200 per night, fully furnished. The visitor’s dilemma is to select either Coit Tower or city lights as a preferred view. Alternatively, one can always rent both.
The Easy Way
Of course, there is another way to get to the top. Drive to Pioneer Park or take the 39 Muni bus line up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower. And while you’re at it, don’t overlook Coit Tower itself. The 1933 WPA lobby murals are a San Francisco treasure. And for $7, a tiny lift goes to the top of the 210-foot tower for a view about as good as it gets. For San Francisco, that’s saying a lot.
Longtime Telegraph Hill resident Patrick Rylee lives on the property and makes sure guests have a memorable visit. He said the most frequently overheard comment by visitors taking the Filbert Street Steps or Greenwich Street Steps to the top is “Who do you think could possibly live up here?” But Rylee says he wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else. In fact, “The parrots make this a truly magical neighborhood. It’s otherwise incredibly quiet, like living in a cocoon.” Pointing out that there are 300 restaurants within a 10-minute walk sprinkled all over North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero, Chinatown, and Russian Hill, Rylee simply supplies a flashlight on a key chain for renters.
At 307 Filbert St., the owner’s favorite comment from a renter whose San Francisco vacation had come to its end is “Oh, my goodness. I was afraid it was going to be this beautiful.”