Telegraph Hill

Last Updated: August 15, 2016

telegraph hill neighborhood

In This Guide

 

About Telegraph Hill

Telegraph Hill is one of these original “Seven Hills” of San Francisco and part of the 44 hills San Francisco claims today. The name itself for the community has varied a bit over the years. The Spanish who congregated here first called it Loma Alta, which is Spanish for High Hill. Following that, Irish Immigrants changed the name to Goat Hill. Eventually, several structures went up on the hill towards the end of 1849, used to signal the rest of the city of the arrival of ships into port. Eventually, a marine telegraph was fixed to the top of the construction, which eventually received the dubbing of “Telegraph Hill” from locals. This is where the current name for the community stems from.

Coit Tower now stands at the top of Telegraph Hill, and can be seen from mile away.

Telegraph Hill is a truly beautiful community and one, like many other neighborhoods in San Francisco, stands out from the rest. From Washington Square Park and the beautiful Coit Tower to views of the Bay and the parrots of Telegraph Hill, there is much to explore here.

 

Things to Know

Telegraph Hill is a residential area. Due to this, there is very little in way of large parking structures. Here, you’ll generally have better luck with street parking. Of course, as a residential area, street parking can sometimes be a bit difficult to find.

More parking is available on the opposite side of Chestnut Street running close to The Embarcadero and the piers, but ultimately these are far more expensive. Your best bet is probably to stick either with the California Parking Inc location (see “Best Places to Park”) or to find on-street parking.

Find more on general parking information for all of San Francisco, like the details of the color curb program, how to retrieve a towed car, and of course, how to park on a hill.

 

Best Places to Park

Best Parking Spots: The North Beach Parking & Telegraph Hill Garage at 501 Filbert St is centrally located and the best parking option for most people. It is open 24 hours a day, plus, it is near Park Tavern and Don Pistos restaurants, two popular restaurants in Telegraph Hill, and Coit Tower.

 

Lots and Garages

View the map below or directly on Google for a list of off-street parking lots and garages in Telegraph Hill. Expand the map to find more options outside of the neighborhood.

55 Francisco St. Garage
55 Francisco St.

65 Fresno St Parking Lot
65 Fresno St.

North Beach Parking & Telegraph Hill
501 Filbert St.

Tower Valet Parking Lot
530 Broadway

955 Sansome St. – Valet Garage
955 Sansome St.

 

Top Parking Tips for Telegraph Hill

  • Avoid the Border Parking Garage, just west of Telegraph Hill at 1636 Powell St. This garage has terrible reviews on Yelp. Common experiences include valets rummaging through cars, closing hours different than what’s posted, and overall rudeness of employees. It’s a tempting option near Washington Square Park but you should look elsewhere.
  • Parking close to Pioneer Park and Coit Tower fills up quickly (especially on the weekends). Avoid the crowds by taking the Filbert Street Stairs (intersection of Filbert and Kearney) after parking on the street at the foot of the stairs, or the North Beach Parking & Telegraph Hill Garage, .1 miles away. Be prepared for some steep stairs though!
  • Remember that failure to curb your wheel will result in a ticket, and Telegraph Hill is one of the more hilly neighborhoods in SF; chances are you’ll need to do this.
  • Look out for no curb areas. Often times it might seem like there is a space available, but it is because there is a private garage entrance. Sometimes there is a clear break in the curb with red paint on either side to mark the driveway or even a sign from the resident to make their garage entrance stand out; but there are plenty of spots with inconsistent curbs and faded paint.
  • Some lots in and around Telegraph Hill are closed by 8 pm. Be on the lookout for this if you plan to return in the evening.

 

Street Parking in Telegraph Hill

Street Parking Overview

Every street in the neighborhood has street parking, just make sure to look at the large, green parking signs placed by the road about every 100 yards or so. This will tell you when reduced parking hours are for each side (generally due to the street sweeper).

Best Bets for Street Parking

telegraph hill best bets street parking

Grant Ave, Between Union and Filbert
Union and Grant Ave

Details

 

Chestnut and Kearny Open Space Park
Chestnut St & Grant Ave

Details

 

Vallejo, East of Montgomery
Vallejo St and Montgomery Ave

Details

 

Telegraph Hill Residential Parking Zone

telegraph hill residential parking zones

The entire neighborhood of Telegraph Hill is within Residential Parking Zone A. View the map above or keep a look out for the signs like the one below to know if you’re in the restricted zone.

Telegraph Hill Residential Parking Zone Sign

Parkers without this permit are allowed to park for the posted time limit (typically 1-2 hours) unless other restrictions apply. You can view the full San Francisco residential permit map here.

Telegraph Hill Parking Meter Locations and Rate Areas

telegraph hill metered zones

Telegraph Hill is mostly parking meter free, with the exception of Grant Avenue on the south half of the neighborhood. About half of the perimeter around Telegraph Hill has metered parking. (Stockton, Broadway, and Sansome Streets), which is also in the Red zone.

  • Red: “Area 3” – meters enforced between 8/9AM-6PM Mon-Sat, $.25 – $2 per hour; limit 1 hour to unlimited

See meter locations and rate areas for all of San Francisco on the city’s website.

 

Paying for Metered Parking

Like all parking meters in San Francisco, parking meters accept coins, credit cards, PaybyPhone, and pre-paid SFMTA Parking Cards. Read more about the street meter payment options.

 

Free Street Parking in Telegraph Hill

You can park for free anywhere in Telegraph after meter and residential restriction hours (typically 9 PM on weekdays and Saturday). Parking is free on Sundays in Telegraph Hill. Of course, look out for street cleaning signs as well.

 

Resources

  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA): This is the end all be all for parking and metro transportation within San Francisco. Here you can purchase parking and transport passes before you arrive. You can also learn about routes, stops, schedules and have just about any question you might have regarding municipal transportation or parking within the city.
  • Parknav – Helps parkers find the best street parking with real-time predictive data.
  • ParkMe – Helps parkers find off- and on-street parking using full-time researchers and a predictive algorithm.
  • SFPark.org – City website with live parking availability and pricing.
  • SpotHero – Find and reserve parking in advance with this free on-demand parking app.
  • Parkopedia – Browse street and off-street parking rates with an interactive map.
  • The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: When visiting Telegraph Hill and, more likely, Coit Tower, you will come across what looks to be parrots. Of course, parrots in San Francisco seem a bit out of place, right? Well, these are really parrots, and so if you’re looking to learn about these parrots, how the birds first came to Telegraph Hill and San Francisco (from South America) and whether or not you’re allowed to feed and interact with the birds, this is the website for you. There is even a book and documentary by the same title, should you want more information.

Attractions

Coit Tower: Located at the top of Telegraph Hill, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it. The tower, which only stands 210-feet tall (but looks taller from a distance due to the height of Telegraph Hill), is a true gem. A statue of Columbus stands directly in front of it as it welcomes visitors to Pioneer Park (a park in existence since 1933). The tower, constructed using a 1920’s Art Deco style is more of a monument to Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who donated money to the city upon her death. It is possible to enter the tower, use the elevator and take pictures of the incredible view from the tower’s perch. The view the tower provides in itself is well worth the trip.

Filbert Street Steps: The steps offer a rather unique experience while visiting San Francisco. The steps run along Filbert Street with a starting point of Filbert at Lyon Street. The steps continue upwards, passing both the 101/Van Ness Ave and Columbus Ave. It leads all the way up to Coit Tower. The steps are comfortably spaced out so you won’t feel at a dangerous incline at all, but taking the steps is a bit of a workout, with inclines varying all the way to 40 percent. It is one of the steepest residential streets in the world. This is a great opportunity to check out both the steps and Coit Tower at the same time, all while squeezing in a solid cardio workout.