One of the more well-known stairways in San Francisco. Combined with the stairs from Montgomery to Telegraph Hill Boulevard, these stairways commonly referred to as the Greenwich Steps reach the top of Telegraph Hill at the Coit Tower parking lot. The challenging 280 foot climb of these two stairways is one of the highest in the city; second only to the the 290-foot high Oakhurst Lane stairway. On its own, this stairway is the third longest in the city, just a few feet short of the neighboring Filbert Steps one block south.
The stairway is L-shaped, with the upper portion parallel to Montgomery Street. The driveway to 1460 Montgomery Street actually passes over the stairs here, on a small bridge. Down near Sansome Street, the base of the stairway is a newer concrete stairway up a steep cliff. These steep cliffs on the eastern side of Telegraph Hill are due to quarrying for rock for ship ballast that lasted into the early 1900s.
There are lush gardens planted all along the north side of the stairs, and several works of tile art near where the stairs make their 90-degree turn below Montgomery Street. Most notable is perhaps the life-sized statue of a girl holding a bird.
A stairway has existed here since the early days of San Francisco. As for the current stairway, the upper-most stairs below Montgomery Street were built in 1931, when the retaining wall at the end of Montgomery was built. The newer stairs at the bottom were likely built circa 1982, when the adjacent building at 1355 Sansome was built and when the Levi's Plaza area was being redeveloped into office space.