This is an update of one of my first posts.
We live on Nob Hill, just below Grace Cathedral. It is a fantastic place to live, so much, so close. But the streets of our particular micr0-neighborhood can be a bit bland, even to the point of gritty- not there there’s anything wrong with that.
One of the delights of the neighborhood, is that almost every block is broken up by small alleys, sometimes trafficked, sometimes not, sometimes just a path, or a even a tiny wedge of space between the buildings. We are lucky enough to live on one of these alleys. This is a view from our apartment- the alley is 25 feet wide, filled with trees, in sharp contrast to the adjacent street above. It is quiet, and communal, most of us know one another on the alley, something I haven’t found living on the larger broader streets such as Sacramento Street above.
As you get up to our apartment, you look back down onto other homes on other alleys, little cottages hidden behind the bulky 4-story apartment buildings of Sacramento Street, and of course, a drop-dead view.
Back on the ground, down the block, a tinier alley, just a 3 foot path. This path is a veritable jungle, a world unto itself, and a mere suggestion at Sacramento Street. Our building hovers just above this lane.
These lanes also offer surprises, such as this little gem a block away, a beautiful modern cottage buried in the trees, or the back side of a water tank, looking like the back of some lost Roman temple.
When an alley isn’t available, sometimes the buildings themselves fold in, forming mews and courtyards, offering spindlyyet inspired planting, or one improbable palm.
And finally, narrow spaces carved into and between buildings, providing light deep inside, or access to buildings behind buildings, and rarely without some little bit of green.
This is the densest set of neighborhoods in the country outside Manhattan, yet one can find remarkable little spaces between buildings, spaces that foster community, and give many blocks their true inner identity.