I used to never leave my house without earphones firmly in place, but I was thinking yesterday about how I haven’t been listening to music this whole time I’ve been Going for Walks… I think when I first started walking because of my injury, my focus was consumed by simply being able to make it to the next block; and then once I felt healthier, the city sights around me occupied my attention…

I miss walkin’ music, though, so today I dusted off my iPod and had a memory-lane laugh at the associations brought back by the old library of music on it, and settled on DJ Shadow’s Entroducing for today’s soundtrack (if you’d like to follow along musically).

As for a destination, anything with “Heights” or “Hill” in the place name has been a smashing success of an outing, so I picked out a new green space on the map and headed out to Corona Heights Park

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A very cozy street sign along 16th Street in the Mission…

(Can anyone explain to me the motivation behind knitting sweaters for poles? Beautification? “Why not”? I appreciate the eccentricity of the notion, but I’ve wondered if there was something behind it… Let me know in the comments…)

street sign with knit cozy

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New-library-card-having-self taking note of another SF Library branch, Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial. I like how our branch libraries are curated for the neighborhoods they serve—the Chinatown branch lists Chinese and Vietnamese texts and histories as a focus, and this Harvey Milk branch in the Castro has a an “LGBT Interest collection that includes materials on the culture, history and life experience of the LGBT community.” Makes sense, of course; and fits in with our Neighborhood Culture in the city…

Eureka Valley Harvey Milk Library Branch

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Crossing Market Street…

Market Street

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Up we go! It’s a “Park at 90 Degrees” urban sidewalk-hiking kind of day—lovely neighborhood…

steep climb through Corona Heights neighborhood

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View from the top of 16th, south side of Corona Heights Park…

Corona Heights view of Sutro Tower

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Panorama from same spot. Not sure this area is technically a trail… the hill drops off just in front of me, and I noticed plenty of the poison oak that the Parks & Rec website mentions—take care while you enjoying the view…

Corona Heights view of Sutro Tower

(click photo to expand and zoom and scroll)

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Also, FYI, there is a busy bee colony that lives here:

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I have never been to Corona Heights Park (even though it is a 25 minute walk from my house! For shame…), so I had to backtrack a little to find a proper park entrance…

view of San Francisco from Corona Heights

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A ha, here we go! There are a few entrances; this one is at the top of 16th, then just off to the right on Flint Street. There is a permanent map signpost with this handy info about train grades and conditions, so you can figure out how you want to explore the park. Rough terrain doesn’t intimidate me, so I just wandered…

Corona Heights park trail

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I surprised myself when I arrived at the top of this incline and realized I’d just run up it like it was nothing… I could feel my blood moving and it felt amazing; a few months ago, I would have been winded and tired. I wouldn’t have thought it would be so easy to play kangaroo up such an incline, but it was! Again, it’s amazing what ditching smokes and moving your limbs a bit everyday will do for you…

view of San Francisco from Corona Heights

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Heading towards the 360 degree view peak…

Sutro Tower from Corona Heights

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Corona Heights’ distinctive red rocks are not natural formations, but were shaped by quarrying in the late 1800s and have witnessed many varieties of explosiveness and other shenanigans:

“The infamous Gray brothers had a brick kiln on States Street, where remnants of the brickyard buildings can still be seen. The kiln burned during the 1906 earthquake, causing some people to think a volcano had erupted on Corona Heights … The Gray brothers were seen as “constant law breakers,” and were accused of injuring neighbors and damaging property with debris from illegal rock blasting here and in other quarries in San Francisco. In 1914, George Gray was murdered by a former employee who was owed back wages. An unsympathetic jury acquitted the defendant.” —SF Parks and Rec website

touching the red rocks in Corona Heights

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Nearing the top…

view of San Francisco from Corona Heights

red rocks in Corona Heights

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Made it! View from the base of the “crown.”

The green patch at middle-left is Dolores Park, and of course Bernal Heights looking over the Mission and the Castro at top right:

view of San Francisco from Corona Heights

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Rocks are for climbing.

The crown looks jagged, but is relatively easy to scale, and has a few nice spots for perching and putting your feet up. I was feeling a little scattered and overwhelmed by work projects this morning, but sitting on top of San Francisco is pretty great for clearing the mind…

view of San Francisco from Corona Heights

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I can see my house from here!
And yours, too…

view of San Francisco from Corona Heights

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AMAZING. Kicking myself so hard for having this spot so close to where I live and never venturing up here before!! You can see EVERYTHING and it is stunningly beautiful…

Click to expand, click again to enlarge, and see if you can find your house, too!

view of San Francisco from Corona Heights

(click photo to expand and zoom and scroll)

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Can’t help but search out familiar places, draw virtual routes over the actual city within my mind’s eye, and think on how many great things are all right here before me…

Downtown/Financial District and SoMa with Oakland across the water:

view of San Francisco from Corona Heights

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It is very windy, as you can imagine…

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Could. Not. Resist…

crushing the Sutro Tower

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Time to head back.

New queens enjoy the crown…

Corona Heights

Corona Heights

Corona Heights park trail

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I walked around the grounds a bit more, but I do not play tennis or have a dog, and the Randall Museum’s Corona Heights buildings are currently being renovated (it’s temporary home until Fall 2016 is in the Mission), so I headed back down the hills via States Street on the south side of the park.

Proud lion guarding his house on the pretty, tree-lined street…

lion house guardian in Corona Heights

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On to Castro Street and past the theatre and shops…

Castro Theatre marquee

Castro Theatre movie posters

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Ha, awesome—there is a new, different mobile hanging in this little alley…

mobile with reflectors in the Castro

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These are new-to-me… This is the Oscar Wilde plaque on the Rainbow Honor Walk down Castro Street and 19th Street, commemorating and honoring LGBT people who had a lasting impact on society. The first of the initial 20 was installed September 2014…

Oscar Wilde plaque in the Castro

The Bay Area Reporter wrote this great, informative article; an excerpt:

“The honorees, 14 men and six women, run the gamut from musical legends and beloved artists to LGBT rights pioneers and a Nobel Peace Prize winner…

Author Armistead Maupin has agreed to dedicate the last plaque for author Virginia Woolf, which will be located near the Twin Peaks bar at the corner of Castro and 17th streets. “A great literary giant unveiling a great literary giant,” said Perry. (David Perry, the originator of the Rainbow Walk idea)…

Other famous authors selected are Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, and Tennessee Williams. Rounding out the group are Christine Jorgensen, who in 1952 became the first person to receive widespread media coverage of her sexual reassignment surgery, and Alan Turing, who cracked the German’s coded messages in World War II  but was later prosecuted for being homosexual…”

(side note: The Imitation Game is a must-see!)

What a beautiful project. This block of Castro Street is especially festive almost all of the time, but these memorials seem a perfect addition: solemn reminders, but of remarkable people who made the world a more vibrant place. Things like this make me feel very grateful for continued progress, and the change it brings, and how much more freely we are able to live today.

Very moved.

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Bringing it back around to the ‘festive’…

sign

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FESTIVE.

The rainbow flags adorning the entrance to Moby Dick

rainbow flags outside of Moby Dick

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Flowers for sale on 18th Street…

flowers for sale in the Castro

scabiosa sign on flowers for sale

flowers for sale in the castro


Where should I go tomorrow?


  • MILES WALKED: 4.5 miles
  • NEIGHBORHOODS: Mission District, Eureka Valley, Corona Heights, Castro District
  • DESIGNATED LANDMARKS: Castro Theatre (no. 100)

map of 7-30-15 walk to Corona Heights