7.4 out of 10

Telegraph Hill

Ranked 38th best neighborhood in San Francisco
37.8021927276934 -122.407888541614
Great for
  • Internet Access
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Clean & Green
  • Eating Out
Not great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Parking
  •  
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Take the steps"

Telegraph Hill's two main focal points are Coit Tower and the Filbert Steps. Let's start with the steps. The steps run along the backyards of some amazingly beautiful houses and gardens. It's sort of like peeking into another world. I wish I could live there (minus all the tourists going past my house daily). In the greenery along the steps, you might even see (or hear) some of the parrots that reside there. There is a wonderful documentary that can tell you more about these beautiful birds called " The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill." It's about Mark Bittner, a resident that feeds and looks after the parrots on the hill. Additionally, regarding the steps: make sure you're sort of in shape. You can take breaks, but it might take awhile to get up all those steps. It's not from the faint of heart.

After you have ascended the steps, then you're on your way to Coit Tower. Right outside the tower, there are breathtaking views of the water and the surrounding land. You can enter the tower for $5, but I would suggest taking in the sights for free.
Pros
  • Beautiful views
  • Attractive Older Buildings
Cons
  • Difficult to walk to
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Students
StBloomSF
StBloomSF Good review. I'd forgotten all about the parrots. Yet another reason to move to Telegraph Hill if you have the bank for it.
2yrs+
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5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
2yrs+

"Really Attractive Hill"

This is really beautiful area. The major tourist attraction is Coit Tower—which for those of you who don’t know SF much—is that stone tower you can see from Fisherman’s Wharf or at least as you’re driving to the Wharf on the Embarcadero. If I ever hit it big, I might consider living here. It has great views of the Bay Bridge and the architecture is really attractive. A lot of it that sort of 1930’s style architecture—like modernist maybe or Beaux-Arts—that kind of thing.
The streets are also really hilly (no duh, it’s called Telegraph Hill) which makes for lots of great vistas. It also has a bunch of the steps that this area is known for, which would be great for going on walks. The Vallejo steps are here for instance. It also feels far enough away from North Beach where you could rest at night, but not so far away that you couldn’t drop down to get your morning latte from Caffe Trieste.
Of course, this area is hardly a secret and that is reflected in the prices. These are ba
Pros
  • Attractive Older Buildings
  • Beautiful views
  • Close to great restaurants and nightlife
Cons
  • Narrow Streets
  • Steep Inclines
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
2yrs+

"Iconic SF Views"

Telegraph Hill, a sneeze-and-you-miss-it neighborhood in the northeast corner of San Francisco, is known primarily for one thing: Coit Tower. Hike to the top and you will be rewarded with stunning 360 degree views of the city, the water that surrounds it on three sides, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Head downhill to the quiet, residential streets or the piers by the Embarcadero for more stunning views.

Getting here is a bit physically challenging for some, making it less crowded than other nearby neighborhoods, which the residents here appreciate. Of course, living in a place like this comes at a price, and in the case, the price is money - dollar-by-dollar, this is one of the most expensive neighborhoods to live in.

Unlike most similar neighborhoods, Telegraph Hill is still within walking distance to great restaurants and nightlife. It's a great place to live, if you can afford it.
Pros
  • Beautiful views
  • Quiet reprieve
  • Close to great restaurants and nightlife
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Difficult to walk to
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"High point at Coit Tower"

What there is to see in Telegraph Hill definitely holds its neighborhood name true. For one, the Coit Tower, probably at the highest point of Telegraph Hill. Coit Tower definitely towers over the north-east of San Francisco and can be seen from any points/areas of San Francisco. The Coit Tower is actually a very frequented landmark of San Francisco by tourists. Just like the twisting streets of Lombard Street, the Coit Tower is just as big as a feat to see. Actually, most of the time, tourists will visit both Lombard Street and Coit Tower, as they are not far from each other, and many tourists like to take the Cable Car from one point to the other and vice versa. If you’re looking for places to spend money at in Telegraph Hill, you are also not far from doing so. On Bay Street and Stockton Street is the Northpoint Centre Shopping Center. Beyong this shopping center and closer to the waters is Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, here tourists and San Franciscans can spend a day here without being bored. There’s so much to do. If you’re ever in this area, you should also head to the Aquarium of the Bay where you’ll see marine life like you’ve never seen it before.

Most of the eastern side of San Francisco is busy and bustling with cars, tourism, and people in general. Living in Telegraph Hill is great for those who love to live in an active environment where you get the feeling that the world around you is busy and is moving constantly.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Telegraphing a Quintessential Picture of the City"

The idyllic San Francisco often pictured in the movies or in coffee-table books likely includes at least one image of Telegraph Hill, a pine-topped bulb that sits above the wharves along the city’s rounded northeastern edge. Like so many other neighborhoods in this hilly city, the streets here are steep, often flanked by sidewalks that are actually steps, some of them quite pitched. Because of these inclines, traffic is light, with few drivers using the roads for anything other than accessing their homes, or going and coming from Pioneer Park and Coit Tower, which crowns this rocky outcropping like a kind of blunt-nosed rocket, standing guard, keeping silent watch over the surrounding bay.

Although this hill, one of the original seven that defined San Francisco during its Gold Rush days, is short (275 feet) by comparison to other behemoths farther inland—Mount Davidson (928 feet), Twin Peaks (910 feet), and Mount Sutro (909 feet)—it is perhaps second best known (after Nob Hill). The hill’s name comes from its Barbary Coast past, when its summit was topped by a semaphore (a device with two arms that signaled, in code, what port-bound ships were carrying in their holds). By the 1860s, when the electric telegraph rendered the semaphore obsolete (a storm knocked it over in 1870 and it was never rebuilt), the hill, whose eastern slope had been quarried extensively to provide ballast for ships leaving San Francisco and pavers for streets, began to fill in with modest homes, its higher elevations studded with working-class cottages reached by their owners via winding paths and boardwalk trails. Many of these structures, spared the conflagration that followed the great quake of 1906 owing to their owners’ tenacity, remain intact today, their distinctly simple facades a fitting contrast to the architectural extravagances that line the streets of the more affluent historic neighborhoods, such as Nob and Russian Hills, rebuilt after the disaster. Telegraph Hill thus contains the greatest concentration of pre-quake buildings in the city, many jammed side-by-side right up to the sidewalk. Stroll down any of the older lanes (Varennes, Genoa or Edith, for instance) for a taste of how claustrophobic the neighborhood likely felt in the 1860s and ’70s.

By the 1920s and ’30s, Telegraph Hill’s cheap rents had begun attracting artists and writers seeking access to the bars and coffeehouses of adjacent North Beach, which had become the hotbed of San Francisco bohemian life. Though these newcomers coexisted with their working-class neighbors, it was not long before the area became home to wealthier individuals, many of whom were civic-minded and did much to improve the neighborhood and preserve its character (while also constructing some of its nicer homes and apartment buildings).

Coit Tower is the visual focal point of Telegraph Hill. Built with funds provided by a quirky 19th-century benefactor (Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who was fascinated by firemen and often followed them to the scene of a burning building), it has an air of permanence that belies its relatively short life. Erected in 1933 as a tribute to the volunteer fire departments she so admired, its interior adorned with frescoes of Depression-era San Francisco by artists working for the WPA, the tower is often the butt of a number of jokes about firemen and their hoses. Yet it is one of San Francisco’s most recognizable monuments, and one of its most beautiful. It rises, sleek and serene, more than 200 feet from the summit of Pioneer Park. By day, it is a counterpoise in white to the burnt orange of the Golden Gate Bridge; by night, lit from below, it glows with a kind of sacred luminescence, as if to signal the purity of the fire and ashes from which San Francisco rose after its greatest calamity.

Over the decades following its tumultuous 1950s and ’60s heyday as a home to Beat Generation poets and the San Francisco Renaissance their works inspired, Telegraph Hill settled comfortably into a quiet, primarily residential area whose inhabitants guard its integrity from wanton development via such organizations as Telegraph Hill Dwellers. That the neighborhood maintains its friendly, homey feel, with few highrises and intrusive developments—in spite of the fact that it abuts the tumult of North Beach bars and restaurants and is within a short walk of the Financial District—is proof of the coherence of the tight-knit community here.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the area’s 10,000 or so residents are an almost even mix of white and Asian (each with roughly 45 percent of the total, with a mix of races making up the rest), young to middle-aged (38 is the median age), and solidly middle class (median annual household income: $70,000). The great majority (more than 80 percent) rent their homes. There aren’t many kids in residence here, a fact born out in the absence of any school, public or private, in the neighborhood (though there are a couple nearby in North Beach).

Such a large number living within a confined area necessarily means parking is difficult. Some of the mid-20th century homes and apartments have garages, though many residents park on the street (and make use of the “A” residential parking permit). Navigating the area on foot is often best achieved via the pedestrian steps that link one street to another, mid-block. Though the area doesn’t necessarily have the most steps in San Francisco, it has a number of the most notable, including the Vallejo Street Stairway, the Filbert Steps, and the Greenwich Street Stairs. The first cuts up the steep eastern side of the hill starting at Montgomery and is actually comprised of three stairways: narrow, straight ones on either side and a wider, angled staircase in the middle, surrounded by well-kept greenery. The last two sets of steps go up Telegraph Hill proper, from different starting points a block apart on Sansome Street, and cut through gardens and beautifully landscaped plots and courtyards. The trees around the Filbert Steps are the original home of the famous parrots of Telegraph Hill, actually feral red-masked parakeets, immortalized in the book and documentary, “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.”

For public transit, the No. 39 bus is pretty much the only choice. It wends its way up Telegraph Hill Boulevard to Coit Tower and down to Columbus and Broadway for connections to buses going to Union Square and the Financial District, or to Beach Street, for connections with the F streetcar, which runs along the Embarcadero.

According to San Francisco Police Department reports, the No. 1 crime here is (not surprisingly), disturbing the peace—generally committed by rowdy bar patrons returning to their cars after closing time in North Beach or carousing after hours in the parking lot next to Coit Tower. Burglaries are infrequent though not unheard of, and the area is not immune to car break-ins, either. Assaults are unusual, and no homicides have been committed in the last three years.

Real-estate prices in Telegraph Hill have been adversely affected by the recent downturn, according to Zephyr Real Estate, dropping by as much as one-fifth for certain single-family homes over the last two years (although condos have remained more stable in the same period). A three-bedroom, 2.5-bath single family house on Varennes Street recently listed for $1.4 million, while a two-bedroom, one-bath condo was going for $550,000. Rentals in the neighborhood, when available, tend to be pricier than elsewhere: studios are listed at $1,500, while one-bedroom, one-bath apartments start at $1,700 and can go to $4,000, depending on amenities. Many renters choose to live here for the views, and many dwellings, for sale or rent, have them, often featuring huge picture windows to capture the sweep of downtown, the waterfront and wharves, and the hills of Marin and the East Bay. It’s one of the privileges of life on this particular hill, and people willingly pay the premium.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"Take the Filbert St. steps to a classic sight"

Telegraph Hill is a major landmark along the San Francisco skyline. Perhaps most famous for its Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill rises steeply out of North Beach and descends dramatically down to the Embarcadero. Each day hundreds of tourists climb Coit Tower’s 200 steps to take in an awe-inspiring 360-degree view of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. The Coit Tower rooftop can also be rented out for special events.

Telegraph Hill is famous for the Filbert Street Steps—a beautiful pedestrian walkway that extends from Coit Tower down to Kearney Street at the edge of The Embarcadero. The Filbert steps leads walkers along a secluded path alongside charming gardens that belong to Telegraph Hill residents. The steps provide a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of the famous Telegraph Hill parrots. These beautiful bright green tropical birds are members of a greater colony of feral parrots that live at various locations throughout San Francisco.

Telegraph Hill can be challenging to navigate by car. This area is home to some of the world’s steepest streets and parking is scarce. The best way to see Telegraph Hill is to hoof it on foot up from North Beach or The Embarcadero. There are several tour buses that haul people up to the top, but the view and the gardens are best enjoyed via walking.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5
2yrs+

"Stinking Rose and Coit Tower"

Down where Columbus and Broadway meet, you'll find the edge of North Beach where you can enjoy City Lights Bookstore (a landmark in this city) and some great restaurants. Among those is my favorite speciality location, the Stinking Rose. This place specializes in garlic -- garlic spread, garlic on pasta, garlic on pizza and even garlic ice cream. If you like garlic, this is a place to go at least once.

Nearby is Pioneer Park, home of the biggest landmark on Telegraph Hill -- Coit Tower. The tower is an interesting round building on a hill which sports a nice view of the north eastern part of San Francisco. Just be careful driving -- the roads are narrow and everything on the streets seems densely packed in.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5
2yrs+

"Eucalytpus and Wild Parrots Reside Here"

The best thing about Telegraph Hill is Coit Tower. It is an easily recognized landmark that is visible from many areas of San Francisco. Coit Tower itself has spectacular views of Alcatraz Island, the Financial District, the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39. The Tower reveals several Diego Rivera inspired murals, which are a joy to see.

If you take the Filbert Street steps down the east side of Telegraph Hill to Montgomery Street, you can enjoy the beautiful views of private cottages and exotic gardens. Homes are well kept in this neighborhood and there are even wild parrots! Yes, the parrots are renowned residents of Telegraph Hill and while working your way up Filbert Street you may hear them squawking and see them swooping from tree to tree.

Be sure and dine like a king at Julius' Castle located on Telegraph Hill, adjacent to Coit Tower, in a cul-de-sac on Montgomery Street that can only be accessed by Union Street from the west side. Their Lombata Milanese is indescribable. Pure luxury at this restaurant.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids

Travelling to Telegraph Hill?

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Best Streets in Telegraph Hill

"The entrance to Coit Tower with beautiful views of the city and bay."
37.8028486830181 -122.405969062872
2

Romolo Pl

3.5/5
"The Hungry Eye and the Basque Hotel"
37.7982545000259 -122.406301999683
3

Filbert St

3/5
"Great workout!"
37.8016860226131 -122.406890238792

Unranked Streets in Telegraph Hill

Pfeiffer St

3.5/5
"A walkers paradise near marina district"
37.804670500367 -122.409737000147

Bannam Pl

3.5/5
"A small street with many apartments"
37.8001320000434 -122.40779799937

Castle St

2.5/5
"No Castles, but there are apartments"
37.8004414993438 -122.405140252085

Edgardo Pl

2.5/5
"The heart of downtown living."
37.8030275008889 -122.40853300035

Edith St

2/5
"A Diamond in the rough with an excellent city location."
37.8028070008424 -122.408476000335

Fresno St

2.5/5
"Fresno Alley, San Francisco"
37.798589000445 -122.406370005113

Genoa Pl

2/5
"A Plain Place"
37.8012650000379 -122.406432999403

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