Wednesday, February 23, 2011

San Francisco's (Snow-Covered?) Hills

Strange as it may seem (particularly to those who live in cold weather climates), everyone seems to be talking excitedly about the possibility of snow this week in San Francisco.
It was even mentioned on the NBC Today show this morning: Snow may fall in the city -- for the first time in 30 years -- Friday night or Saturday, particularly in spots 500 feet above sea level.
San Francisco's elevation is generally listed at around 63 feet, but its many hills actually range in elevation from 100 to 928 feet, according to the San Francisco Visitors' Planning Guide, which I picked up today the San Francisco Travel Association.
(The association, the city's tourism promotion agency, was known for decades as the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. It changed its name a few weeks ago, dropping "bureau," which sounded, well, bureaucratic, executives there said).
One fascinating page in the guide is devoted to "San Francisco's Steepest Streets." Here are a few tidbits to keep in mind as we look upward in the coming days for signs of flurries:
*The actual number of hills in the city is highly contested, but counts range from 42 to 74, depending on who is doing the counting.
*San Francisco was originally built on seven hills, just like Rome. They are Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Rincon Hill, Mount Sutro, Twin Peaks and Mount Davidson.
*Some of the city's hills are so steep that roads can't be built on them. More than 300 stairways provide access for residents.
*San Francisco's steepest streets are Filbert between Leavenworth and Hyde and 22nd Street between Church and Vicksburg. Both have a 31.5% grade.
Let it snow!

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