Telegraph Hill, San Francisco

Telegraph Hill, San Francisco

Telegraph Hill (elev 275 ft, 83 m) refers to a small district in San Francisco, California. Its main feature is Coit Tower, which stands atop the hill.

Location

A much quieter neighborhood than adjoining North Beach and its bustling cafés and nightlife, Telegraph Hill is primarily a residential area. Aside from Coit Tower, it is well-known for its gardens flowing down Filbert Street down to Levi's Plaza. The neighborhood is bounded by Vallejo Street to the south, Sansome Street to the east, Francisco Street to the north and Powell Street and Columbus Avenue to the west, where the southwestern corner of Telegraph Hill overlaps with the North Beach neighborhood.

History

Originally named Loma Alta ("High Hill") by the Spaniards, the hill was then familiarly known as Goat Hill by the early San Franciscans, and became the neighborhood of choice for many Irish immigrants.From 1825 through 1847, the area between Sansome and Battery, Broadway and Vallejo streets was used as a burial ground for foreign non-Catholic seamen.

The hill owes its current name to a semaphore, a windmill-like structure erected in September 1849, for the purpose of signaling to the rest of the city the nature of the ships entering the Golden Gate. Atop the newly-built house, the marine telegraph consisted of a pole with two raisable arms that could form various configurations, each corresponding a specific meaning: steamer, sailing boat, etc. The information was used by observers operating for financiers, merchants, wholesalers and speculators. As some of these information consumers would know the nature of the cargo carried by the ship they could quickly predict the upcoming (generally lower) local prices for those goods and commodities carried. Those who did not have advance information on the cargo might pay a too-high price from a merchant unloading his stock of a commodity — a price that was about to drop. On October 18, 1850, the ship "Oregon" signaled to the hill as it was entering the Golden Gate the news of California's recently acquired statehood.

Sailing ships brought cargo to San Francisco, but needed ballast when leaving. Rocks for ballast were quarried from the bay side of Telegraph Hill. Exposed rock from this quarrying is still visible from the Filbert Steps and from Broadway, where there was a large landslide on February 27, 2007 that damaged property and forced the evacuation of many residents. [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/02/28/SLIDE.TMP]

A redundant station was built at Point Lobos in 1853. However, with the advent of the electrical telegraph in 1862, the system quickly became obsolete and was eventually dismantled, but the hill and its surrounding neighborhood have retained the name of Telegraph Hill.

In the 1920s, Telegraph Hill became with North Beach a destination for poets and bohemian intellectuals, dreaming of turning it into a West Coast West Village.

The wild parrots of Telegraph Hill

Today Telegraph Hill is known for supporting a flock of feral parrots, primarily Red-masked Parakeets ("Aratinga erythrogenys,") descended from escaped or released pets. The flock was popularized by a book and subsequent documentary (2003), both titled "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill".

The birds, known in the bird trade as Cherry-headed Conures, are native to Peru and Ecuador; they have established a breeding colony, with the support of some residents. They range widely, including the The Embarcadero and the Presidio, and may have spawned a colony in the Cupertino area of the South Bay.

A controversial San Francisco city ordinance passed on June 5, 2007, prohibits the feeding of parrots in public spaces. The feeding ban was championed by Mark Bittner, the birds' most outspoken supporter who has been feeding them for years and was featured in the book and documentary. Other local conservationists also supported the ban, though some residents continue to object.cite news|last=AP|title=San Francisco bans feeding the city's famed wild parrots|date=June 6, 2007|journal=San Francisco Chronicle
url=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/06/06/state/n134017D72.DTL&hw=parrots&sn=001&sc=1000| |accessdate=2007-06-06
]

Movies featuring Telegraph Hill

* "After the Thin Man" (1936)
* "Dark Passage" (1947)
* "Out of the Past" (1947)
* "The House on Telegraph Hill" (1951)
* "Vertigo" (1958)
* "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967)
* "The Enforcer" (1976), the third film in Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" series
* "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1978)
* "EDtv" (1999)
* "North Beach" (2000)
* "Hulk" (2003) (final scene)
* "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill" (2005)

Radio featuring Telegraph Hill

* "Candy Matson, YU 2-8209" aired on NBC from March 1949 to May 1951 and featured Natalie Parks as Candy Matson, PI. Each job took her from her apartment on Telegraph Hill to numerous specific locations in San Francisco.

ee also

*Coit Tower
*Filbert Steps
*49-Mile Scenic Drive
*List of San Francisco, California Hills

References

External links

* [http://enfuego.org/ef1_pc/barbary/barbary1.html "Surrounded by Sound: Aurally Exploring the Barbary Coast"] in [http://enfuego.org/ en fuego magazine]
* [http://www.jbmonaco.com/north_beach/index.html JB Monaco Telegraph Hill and North Beach Photo Gallery]
* [http://www.archive.org/details/OTRR_Candy_Matson_Singles]


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