Five Things You Didn't Know About San Francisco

1. Wild parrots live on Telegraph Hill

As popularized by the 2003 indie film, “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,” there are wild parrots that live on Telegraph Hill. They hang out in the trees by the Filbert Street Steps, where a whole neighborhood of houses sits hidden by trees on the side of the city hill connected only by this set of a long set of steps running through a forest in the middle of the city. If you walk along these steps, you can spot them.

2. They weren’t kidding about the hills.

It’s a hilly city. But so are a lot of cities. These hills are different. When parking on a hill anything more than a 3% grade, it is legally required that you curb your tires. This means that you turn your front wheels into the curb so that if your car rolled, the curb would stop it. What might look on Google Maps like a brisk stroll a few blocks is actually more like climbing a mountain.  

3. Actual San Franciscans don’t ride the famous cable car trolleys

Despite what it might look like in photos, the cable cars that run up and down city hills are almost entirely used by tourists. Commuters in San Francisco don’t use them for a couple reasons. First, they’re more expensive than city buses. Unless you’re someone who has a pass to ride them, it’s not cost effective. Second, there are always lines of tourists wanting to get on, and cars passing by are often completely full with them. Third, they’re slow compared to the bus. Expensive, crowded, and slow? I’d take the bus, too.

4. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest enclave of Chinese people outside of Asia.

Yes indeed.

5. It claims to have the “crookedest street”

For one block, Lombard Street, still right in the middle of a city grid, becomes a winding, twisting turning, zig zag. And, surprise! It’s on a hill. It’s picturesque, surely, but extremely impractical. Because it’s also become a huge tourist attraction, and because cars have to go so slowly on it, there is often a traffic officer stationed on either side trying to mitigate the disruption the street causes. And some of the residents are getting sick of the daily commotion.