Do you need to get away from it all? Do you need to escape the daily grind? Do you need a sanctuary? Then the time has come to visit one of San Francisco’s lesser-known parks. Grand View Park (also known as Grandview Park or Turtle Hill–there’s no consensus on anything in this town), is one of our tiny ones, less than an acre in size. The 66 bus goes directly to G. V., but let’s get some exercise and take a little walk!
All we have to do is find 16th Avenue and head south. Here’s a convenient sign:
OK, it might not look like a normal avenue. This is how San Francisco does streets. If you’ve read my photo essay on Peralta Avenue, 16th Avenue will come as no surprise.
Once you’ve climbed to the top of this block of 16th, you won’t have much more trouble reaching Grand View. Just two more sets of stairs. Here’s the first:
It’s not as difficult as it looks. Furthermore, you have to like the looks of the stairs themselves. Many San Franciscans are not just fiercely loyal to their city, they are fiercely loyal to their neighborhoods and their neighborhood associations. This particular association raised money for the upkeep of the area and construction of this series of stairs by selling sponsorships. The tiles themselves are worth reading for a sense of SF history; one stair was sponsored by a family whose members have served in the SF Police Department since 1892. The top two flights are my favorite.
When you reach the top of these stairs, you can relax, only one more set of stairs to go:
Unlike Land’s End, the local parks people do try very hard to restrict your movements in this park. Despite its tiny size, Turtle Hill remains an important natural habitat for rare species of plants and insects, especially butterflies. Therefore, the humans receive considerable encouragement to leave the slopes of the hill alone.
The hilltop is another matter. The top of the hill belongs to the people.
(Addendum, 18 May 2013: I forgot to write about one curious phenomenon that might be unique to Turtle Hill–it is simultaneously one of the quietest and one of the noisiest spots in San Francisco, and therefore you cannot wear a hat when you visit. Between the morning departure for work and the afternoon return from the same, you will find no, I mean no vehicular traffic in this residential neighborhood with narrow twisting roads. In terms of human noise, it becomes very quiet. Turtle Hill also gets slammed with perhaps the strongest winds in the city. In terms of natural noise, this park is a non-stop high-decibel racket. Because the bellowing billows blast you so bellicously (ah, poesy!), any hat will blow off your head and fly down the slopes, with the possible exception of a very tight beret.)
I took a different route to the bottom of the hill, climbing down the stairs on the east side of the hill. Took more pictures of course, including this one.
I hope you enjoyed the tour.
Vonn Scott Bair