Home to tech mavens, foodies, counterculture types and newcomers from all over the globe, America’s hilly, fog-shrouded Golden Gate is a city unlike any other.
Author Matthew Thompson Photography Erin Kunkel
A Whirlwind tour of S.F. Counterculture
First came the 49ers, who actually started arriving in 1848 in search of gold and increased the city’s population 25-fold in a single year. By the 1880s, writers like Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson had gathered here, helping San Fran develop its reputation as a hub for the arts. In the 1950s, many of the Beat writers called the city home, hosting readings and bop concerts in North Beach. Their presence helped bring about the Summer of Love in 1967, when hippies fl ocked to Haight-Ashbury, spawning a host of legendary rock bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
By the ’70s, the hippies had been largely replaced by an influx of gays and lesbians (partially fueled by the military, which often deposited its dishonorably discharged gay soldiers in San Francisco), which turned the Castro neighborhood into the engine of the gay rights movement. Today, the action is in Palo Alto, where tech nerds with million- dollar condos work to craft the technology that will drive San Francisco for its next 100 years.
MATTHEW THOMPSON, a Hemispheres contributing writer, is still waiting for his home state of New Hampshire to get cable cars.
HILL STREET BLUES
THERE ARE OFFICIALLY 43 HILLS IN SAN FRANCISCO. HERE ARE SIX OF THE MOST FAMOUS.
TELEGRAPH HILL, 284 FT.
BETWEEN NORTH BEACH AND THE WATERFRONT, YOU’LL FIND COIT TOWER AT THE SUMMIT IN THE MIDDLE OF A WOODED PARK. WATCH OUT FOR THE FLOCKS OF WILD PARROTS.
NOB HILL, 376 FT.
GUTTED BY THE 1906 FIRE, NOB HILL NOW PLAYS HOST TO A MIX OF LUXURY HOTELS, LIKE THE RITZ- CARLTON, AND THE EVER- ENCROACHING FRONTIER OF CHINATOWN.
RUSSIAN HILL, 294 FT.
A RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY PERCHED ABOVE GHIRARDELLI SQUARE AND THE BAY, IT’S MOST FAMOUS FOR THE SWITCHBACKS OF LOMBARD STREET, WHICH RUNS DOWN ITS SIDE.
MOUNT SUTRO, 918 FT.
THIS PARCEL OF DENSE EUCALYPTUS FOREST, LOCATED DUE WEST OF THE CASTRO, BOASTS A NUMBER OF WELL-MAINTAINED HIKING TRAILS.
TWIN PEAKS, 904 FT. AND 911 FT.
LOCATED IN THE CENTER OF THE CITY, THESE TWIN HILLS (EUREKA AND NOE) ACT AS A FOG BREAK FOR THE EASTERN HALF OF TOWN. CHRISTMAS TREE POINT, BELOW EUREKA PEAK, OFFERS THE BEST VIEW IN SAN FRANCISCO.
MOUNT DAVIDSON, 938 FT.
THE TALLEST NATURAL POINT IN SAN FRANCISCO, MOUNT DAVIDSON IS MOSTLY PARK SPACE, WITH A GIANT CROSS ILLUMINATED FOR EASTER AT ITS PEAK.
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