Cars and tour buses are not allowed on these pedestrian-only streets. Each is unique in that it provides Russian Hill with a residential street with no vehicle access. Each of these lanes is different but the common characteristic, like the Russian Hill stairway gardens, is that all planting and maintenance are done by immediate neighbors. And they are for all of us to enjoy. As you walk these very special lanes, please respect the privacy of these neighborhoods.
On these three walking lanes located on Russian Hill’s eastern slope, it is not uncommon to see or hear the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill who venture to a habitat not unlike the Greenwich and Filbert Steps in Telegraph Hill.
Macondray Lane. To find the beginning of this lane, start at Green and Leavenworth. On the east side of Leavenworth walk north toward the bay. Turn right in what looks like a parking lot just north of Green. The actual lane begins mid-block and continues across Jones until it descends by wooden stairway to Taylor Street. This lane, originally named Lincoln Lane, is one of the most famous in the City and in Russian Hill. It is a landscaped pedestrian oasis with small cottages, houses, flats, and apartments. At 15-17 Macondray Lane, near Taylor, you will find the only house on the lane that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. It was owned by the artist Giuseppe Cadenasso who was on the faculty of Mills College. This lane is reputedly the setting for Armistead Maupin’s Barbary Lane in Tales of the City. The stairs at Taylor Street were used in the Tales of the City television series. Click here to view one neighbor’s photo gallery of the Lane.
Marion Place. This steep wooded walkway descends north from the 900 block of Union Street between Jones and Taylor. The walkway provides access to an apartment building, a garden on the east side of the lane, and to a house at the end of Marion Place. At the lower end of Marion Place, you can view the neighbors’ garden improvements to the open space beyond the end of the lane, easily recognizable by a large black acacia tree that angles over the sidewalk and street. There are sidewalks on both sides with planting in the middle and at the lower end. Neighborhood support was instrumental in retention of the open space.
Havens Place. This dead-end lane starts on the west side of Leavenworth, just north of the corner of Union and Leavenworth. Walk up a steep set of stairs to find this urban gem. Where the walk splits, take the left lane. The right one is privately owned. The gardens are cultivated by the neighbors on this very private, yet public street. Less known than Macondray Lane, this is an exceptional find. Armistead Maupin lived in an apartment on this lane while writing Tales of the City.