San Francisco – Nob Hill to Russian Hill 5/27/17

Flying in to San Francisco, and the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is so deep – they say the upper elevation roads won’t open till July.

We get our first taste of the city walking to our hotel – everything is uphill! First destination – Grace Church up on fancy Nob Hill.

Grace Church

The front doors are a recreation of the bronze Baptistry doors of the Duomo church in Florence, Italy, created by Ghiberti in the late 1400s – using perspective and deep relief to create the 3-D effect that ushered in the Renaissance.

Moses receiving the Ten Commandments

The walls inside Grace Church are lined with murals depicting historic scenes in the city and the Church’s life. This one is of the 1906 earthquake and fire which destroyed the 3rd version of Grace Church – the church was first built as a little wooden chapel in 1849 at the start of the Gold Rush.

The Church has a labyrinth inside, under this stained glass rose window, and the same meditative walking path in a courtyard outside.

This mural honors the founding of the United Nations, and the hope for peace.

The Church also has an AIDS memorial chapel, with an AIDS quilt, artwork, and a many-paged book of remembrance with the names of those who died from the disease.

Inside the Church is this work of art in light – Jacob’s Dream. And as you watch, shadowy figures climb and fall the length of the light-rod ladder.

We head down the other side of Nob Hill, on our way to Russian Hill. Little architectural delights are all around. You can double-click any photo to enlarge:

Here’s a good view of downtown with the Bay Bridge:

Some of the hills are so steep that drivers/pedestrians can’t see over the top. They actually have road signs saying “hill.”

Next – we find Macondray Lane, a little walking-path alley with a hidden garden that serves as the front yard for a few homes.

Now we’re climbing up Russian Hill, and pass Filbert St (between Leavenworth & Hyde Sts.) which is the steepest street in the city, at a 31.5% grade. Trucks, tourbuses not allowed – no “runaway truck” ramps here!

Here’s how they have to build apartment garages on these slopes:

And climbing gardens:

We finally reach famed “crooked” Lombard Street – built to zigzag down around jutting gardens to slow the traffic. But the tourist traffic with selfie-sticks crowds the area:

We head down to the nearby San Francisco Art Institute, founded in 1871, with its Mediterranean-tiled fountain, and student art. Lots of photography – their photog department was founded by Ansel Adams, and hosted Annie Liebovitz. One room has a giant fresco created by Diego Rivera.

Closeup of Rivera’s fresco “The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City,” 1931. That’s his self-portrait backside in the center, sitting and watching the work:

A little rest back in the room- thank you, public transportation! Then a walk to dinner in Chinatown, the largest in the US:

Chinatown Gate

Hey, we’re at the Barbary Coast!

Final find of the night – the “spot” where Sam Spade’s partner Miles Archer was “done in” by Brigid O’Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon! Right across from Dashiell Hammet Way!

 

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