That the hills of San Francisco are so steep that sidewalks become stairs is fantastic. (In literal sense of being fantastical.) Traversing the city feels less like plotting out positions on a grid than navigating a mountain labyrinth. Climbing Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower in the light of the setting sun only serves to amplify the sense of strange magic that San Francisco offers.
San Francisco at the end of Saturday: to paraphrase the Hold Steady, the lines of the city are awash in hot, soft light. I’ve rambled in the past on the gradient between nature and dense urbanization, and the special anomaly that the San Francisco Bay Area represents in its gentle juxtaposition of wood and concrete (buildings). This particular photograph from Telegraph Hill tells the story: the towering, mythical shape of the Transamerica Pyramid and a hill of grasses, with less than a half-a-mile walk separating them.
As shot from Pier 14, Coit Tower stands atop Telegraph Hill. Its white surface, in conjunction with colored lights, make it absolutely stunning to see at night. Such surreal objects can lack a suitable sense of scale when photographed. This photograph satisfies me so in large part because the homes clustering the hill provide that scale, and a sense of the familiar to match the alien.
Climbing Telegraph Hill on foot means stairs. Lots and lots of stairs.
Climbing Telegraph Hill by car means loops. Lots and lots of loops.
(Though I’m sure my memory is exaggerating.) On that winding road through the trees and stones, under the watchful eyes of the wild parrots, are occasional glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge. With the last wisps of sunlight landing on the hill, the craggily texture of the tarmac and the rocks and trees contrast so perfectly the with the far-off Platonic idealism of that bridge.