ESCAPE FROM THE HAIGHT

Did you know San Francisco’s infamous Haight-Ashbury  has the largest collection of oldest Victorian homes in the city? The Haight was developed early on as an escape from the crowded city life 3 miles East, with fairgrounds, a stadium and of course the Golden Gate Park. Beautiful tree lined streets with majestic grand dame Victorians were only a cable car ride away; these homes served as hotels, b&b’s and “country estates” for early San Franciscans. Later the Haight became as escape from mainstream life in a different way, but I think you know about that story. The area survived the quake and fire of 1906 because of this distance from the city, as well as being on bedrock, which is why almost every street is filled with the oldest and most well preserved architecture (fun fact — the small but lovely public library on Page St is the oldest branch remaining (built in 1833), as well as one of the oldest surviving municipal buildings in the city).  If you’re traveling to the area I’d advised skipping actual Haight St (unless you’re into kitch and pricey vintage) — instead, stroll up and down the side-streets, from Broderick to Shrader; meander back and forth across the narrow pan handle and up and down the shallow hills. Go in the morning or the late afternoon when the light is right, and don’t forget your camera.

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