Some backstories - Flight C (third from top)
Out in the Fog
"The Diablo Fairy Lantern element was crowdfunded by 57 people as an organized contribution acknowledging the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people who are part of the local community. "Out in the Fog" was the name of an informal social group for LGBT residents of the Inner Sunset in the early 2000s. Why the Diablo Fairy Lantern? Because it has "fairy" in the name, and we reclaim that pejorative with pride! See the crowdfunding campaign for the Diablo Fairly Lantern element, organized by Sherry Boschert:
Editor's Note: A tile in the Diablo Fairy Lantern element has a special note, which is included below (but above the ***)
"We live near the bottom of the Steps and have been life partners since 1984 and grass-roots activists together for social change. We had a commitment ceremony in the 1980s, became domestic partners in the 1990s, and had a civil union and finally an official, legal marriage in the 2000s. We're proud to live in the first U.S. city to legalize gay marriage, even if that was temporarily overturned until fairer legal heads prevailed. We are Inner Sunset residents since 1991. Meg is a physician who worked for years taking care of people living with HIV and AIDS at San Francisco General Hospital. Sherry is a journalist and author. We love our neighborhood and love the Steps, and are so happy to leave a piece of our history on the Steps." (C21)
"I put the names of four generations of my family on the steps-- my kids and their partners, their kids, their mother and me, and our parents. And I was able to do this as a "tree", following the design of the Shooting Star element, with the great-grandparents on the leaves at the bottom of the stem, their mother and me on the stem, and our kids/partners/their kids on the petals of the flowers at the top.
It made me so happy to do this. As the song would have it (slightly altered), "I left our names in San Francisco."
Then I wanted to think about how to do it. Because Judy Goddess, my wife, was working on the project, I wanted to make a surprise donation and purchase of tiles when she was on duty, at a table set out one Saturday morning at the base of the steps. I also wanted to make the payment that way rather than just going online in order to encourage Judy and the others that the tabling was worthwhile and give them a record of success to point to.
And then there's the huge satisfaction of helping to make a dark and dreary place beautiful. The project and my donation worked for me on so many levels."
Editor's Note: This element spans two flights (C & D), so the backstory is on both flights.
"My other half and I divide our time between San Francisco (our northern home) and Los Altos (the southern home). The text is derived from: "Casa" means home in Spanish, "Busbang" is a combination of our last names, and "Nord" means north in German. Our SF home is in the central Sunset district, just off of Kirkham. I'm always walking up Kirkham to visit the 9th Ave. shopping/dining zone, which is how I initially found out about the project. I love looking up at the steps every time I pass 16th Ave. and sometimes I'll climb up and back down for an extra bit of exercise." (C21)
"The San Francisco Road Runners Club is a non-profit, all volunteer, running club (the largest in San Francisco), which was founded in 2001 by local runners to give runners of all abilities the support they need to accomplish their running goals. Come run with us! Visit our website at Home - San Francisco Road Runners Club to learn when and where we meet." (C21)
"I (Judy) have lived in the Sunset for about 30 years, much of that time near the Steps. Rufus and I were married in November 2012. This tile celebrates our relationship and marriage."
"I am currently spending a few months in Italy. I used to live on 16th Av, right there at Judah. The project sounded like a nice way to leave my mark in the area, and to commemorate a couple of friends at the same time. Kathleen was a marvelous teacher, and a great woman overall. I met her in Cupertino a few decades ago, and lost track when I moved to San Diego (This was happening before internet came about.) She died of breast cancer a few years ago." (C22)
"Ours is a family tile. When my Mom first heard about the garden steps, she couldn't stop talking about them. So I gave a tile to her as a Christmas gift. Our tile reads ... "Margaret and Walter We Love You Lisa and Kristine", from my sister and me.
My parents moved to SF in 1966 to start a family. My sister and I, born in the Sunset District in the early 70s, were blessed to be raised in such a beautiful neighborhood, with great schools, specials friends, and surrounded by amazing sunsets every afternoon. My parents are two very amazing, talented and caring individuals. My Mom was a professional ballerina who toured around the world in the Royal Ballet and now has a non-profit Ballet School in Novato. My Dad was a professional advertising photographer, one of the top five in San Francisco during his 30+ year career in SF. He's now retired, working with my Mom taking photographs of her students' performances. My sister and I have subsequently moved away, but our parents still live in the same home we were raised in. This tile will be a special place and memory of our family for many years to come. Even when we're gone...our legacy will remain. Thank you "hidden garden" for providing this beautiful memory for me and my family. ...and everyone who visits the steps." (C22)
"Since its inception, one of Paragon’s main goals has been to make a positive difference in our community and is committed to the betterment of the communities we work in. Through volunteer efforts as well as charitable donations, Paragon Real Estate Group and our agents actively support local organizations in their efforts to improve The City and the living conditions of others. We are happy to add The Hidden Garden Steps to our list of recipients from The Paragon Community Fund." (C22)
"The name is for my husband Jad from me and his son Nicholas for his 50th birthday. The neighborhood means a lot as it's the first place my husband and I moved into a new place together, brought our only child home to and the first and only house we bought. While we are both East Coast transplants, this neighborhood definitely feels like home to us now."
"Our family live (and kids grew up) in the neighborhood. We love the idea of these beautiful tile stairs and wanted to be a part of this great project. The kids have since moved away but this family tile will help preserve the memory of our time together in the Inner Sunset! I love it when friends would take a walk on the Hidden Steps and tell me later "Hey I saw your tile!" Thanks to you and your committee on this wonderful job well done!" (C23)
"San Francisco is privileged to rely on a supply of pure water from the Tuolumne river, but it no longer needs to store that water in the Hetch Hetchy valley inside Yosemite National Park. As we seek to make our own city more beautiful with projects like these steps, we should also look at how we can restore that valley and give something beautiful back to everyone else. My wife lived in this neighborhood for several years and was a volunteer on the steps project: this tile connects her desire to make our own city more beautiful, with mine to restore a valley controlled by San Francisco many miles away." (C23)
"The Hidden Garden Steps are very special to us. I was on the Steps Planning Committee from the beginning of the project. Our family -- Jim, Leena, and our daughter Anna -- has lived near these steps for over 30 years. We have walked up and down them countless times: to GG Park, to the N-Judah, to our neighborhood. Our shell tile on the Moraga Steps has four names: Jim, Leena, Anna, and Asta, our golden retriever since died but with us for 13 years. Now, eight years later, on the Hidden Garden Steps, our leaf tile has our three names and a new fourth name, Tierra, our "new" family golden. Anna is grown, has moved away, and is about to be married. The passage of time is reflected in a lovely way on the Moraga Tiled Steps and the Hidden Garden Steps." (C24)
"If we spelled it out, it would have included reference to Magarys who date back to 1849 in SF (a great-great uncle was on a whaling ship in Maui when he heard about the discovery of gold) plus our Olsson and Forsberg grandparents who came to SF in 1889, 1893, and 1903."
"Our families have had roots in the Inner Sunset area since the 1950s. We love the neighborhood and are hoping to spend many more happy years here with future generations."
"At the time that the project began, my mother was living with us at 15th and Lawton – right near the top of the stairs. My husband and I love taking neighborhood walks and have enjoyed finding all the "hidden" staircases… particularly the one with the beautiful mosaics and art work on 16th Ave. When the opportunity to participate in the new stairs emerged, I thought it would be a wonderful way to acknowledge both the project and my Mother. My Mom is now 93 and lives in an Assisted Living Residence. When my siblings come to visit they enjoy walking the stairs and finding her name. It is a fitting tribute to a woman who loved nature and "beautifying" her surroundings." (C26)
"I wanted to be part of this fantastic project in a small way and was thrilled when it was finished. This is my neighborhood."
"One thing I forgot to mention is that my dear sis/law, Carole Presten, gave me a book "Stairway Walks in San Francisco" by Adah Bakalinsky about 15 years ago and this started my many strolls in the neighborhood."
"Having sold real estate for well over 30 years and doing a great deal of work in Golden Gate Heights over the years, I volunteered for the project to give back to the community. It was an honor and a privilege to work with an amazing group of neighbors."
What a great project. I have two tiles: Colette M Rush and Genevieve F Rush for my two daughters who were born and are growing up in the neighborhood (born in 2009 and 2011). I wanted them to be part of something as beautiful as they are!
"Star Dance Studio has been in the Inner Sunset District over 60 years! Here's how. My mom, Ruth Jevarian, was a professional dancer. When she married, she stopped dancing to start a family. Dad opened a small grocery store and mom helped him run it. Over time, a few customers asked if she would consider teaching their children how to dance. She rented a large hall above the grocery store and soon children came to her for lessons. When we moved to 10th Avenue near Ortega Street, my parents built a dance studio in the basement of the home, and Star Dance Studio flourished there. When mom retired in 1974, I took over the school and continued the legacy. In 1996 we moved to a larger location just a few blocks away to Moraga & 9th Avenue, in the building which was originally built in 1933 as Sutro Market. Generations of children have learned to dance at Star Dance Studio. ... I've no doubt that their feet have also been on the Hidden Garden Steps, and in years yet to come, their children's feet and their children's children's feet will be on those steps as well. It's all quite special and miraculous!" (C27)
"Orestes—Jessie Audette’s son, born while we worked on the steps."
Editor: Jessie Audette lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she was inspired by Jorge Selaron's steps (see his tile backstory on Flight D). When she moved to San Francisco, she and Alice Xavier headed up the creation of the first tiled steps, an extension of Moraga between 16th and 15th Avenue. She has subsequently moved back to Brazil. The "we" above refers to the artists who designed and made both steps.
"Lorraine Rosenthal, my mom, died of lung cancer. She was a fighter and died at a very young age. My mom loved the outdoors and being near the water because it helped her asthma and I often go to this neighborhood to visit my grandma. I wanted someplace beautiful to remember my loved ones and I also wanted to support the parks. When my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer at just 61 years young I told her about the tile that I had previously purchased for my Aunt Linda (see riser #93 Linda Kaiser for her aunt's tile) & asked her how she felt about also having a tile and she liked the idea. She had been many times to the mosaic stairway on Moraga and loved the fresh air and views of the water from there. My mom's favorite place was the beach and nearby areas so when I visit the stairways I look at the water and think of the unconditional love she always gave me." (C27)
"The tile with the last name "Dover-Torrealba" was initially an engagement gift to my fiancé. I wanted to leave something forever etched in San Francisco…the place we first met and the place we fell in love. I decided to etch the hyphenated name we both planned to take after we became domestic partners. But the tile has since became a reminder of how everything in our lives was impacted by our marriage being legally recognized. Once DOMA and Prop 8 were overturned we rushed to the courthouse to get a marriage license and found in small subscript the rules for legal name change…we quickly put hyphenation behind us and formed a new family name, Doveralba. Today, we are happily married and live in the Inner Sunset, just blocks away from our steps. We love hiking up the steps and taking friends and family to see the amazing views atop Turtle Hill!" (C28)
"My husband and I visited Tom & Liz in San Francisco, after Tom stayed with us in London, Ontario (Canada), during a medical conference. We tremendously enjoyed the stay at their house, explored the beautiful city and walked the steps beside their house. By donating a tile, it looks like our footsteps are there forever. Certainly a reason to visit again."
"'Loving Godmama Lynne' tile is for my daughter's godmother who passed away unexpectedly in 2008. She was a very loving person and we are still missing and loving her."
"Mr. Keesun Son, who passed away in 2005, was a very loving, nurturing, and fun grandfather to my two children. My children believe that he is the best grandfather anybody can possibly ask for. To me, he was the best father-in-law anybody can ask for. The steps represent another way to remember the very special connection my children have with their grandfather."
"it was a birthday/anniversary greeting to Liz and Tom who threw a wonderful party at the aquarium. This was our gift to you."
Editor: The donor is a pediatrician at UCSF, whose tag line on his emails reads: ****Abolish nuclear weapons! Save the planet! Go to www.psr.org!****
"Shortly after we (Jeff and Vivian) got married, we bought a home on Lawton Street near the Hidden Garden Steps. Daughters Jessica and Julianna were born subsequently. We feel so fortunate to live in San Francisco and the mosaic tiles provide that additional connection to the neighborhood we love. When we were commuting to downtown SF, we used to walk on these steps everyday. Before the beautiful transformation, the steps had been in disrepair and had unsightly graffiti nearby on the fences. As a family, we would frequently exercise on the tiled steps and do many loops around them. It is so pleasant to see the colorful tiles as you go up the steps." (C30)
"Precious Teagan 63098" tile is for my only child - a daughter who was born June 30, 1998."
"Bernadette and I moved to San Francisco in 2009 on a 4 year assignment to work there; in 2014 we moved back to Belgium, where our roots are.
We have so many good memories of our stay in the Bay Area that we wanted something from us to stay over there while we returned to Belgium. That is why we engaged in the project.
"We left our heart in San Francisco"; we loved the spectacular views on the city from Marin County, the walks in the city using the hidden steps, the beauty of the nature and the ocean, the fog rolling in over the bay, the great people, the diversity of cultures and opinions, the excellent food and wine, the exceptional cultural scene, especially with the new Jazz center…for us it was an unbelievable experience that we will cherish for ever." (C30)
"The tile was given in tribute to the long, enduring friendship between Liz McLoughlin, your neighbor and instigator of the Steps project, and me. I live in Philadelphia. Our meeting in 1968 was serendipitous. We were at such completely different moments in our lives, and the products of quite different families and experiences, and yet, we clicked! Through significant life changes, determined visits and never-to-be forgotten travel, Liz and Liz remain friends. We feel so lucky!"
"I dedicated the tile to my Husband Kris on the happy occasion of our 10th year wedding anniversary. We live in the neighborhood close to the Mosaic Stairway on Moraga Street, which we love and have walked many times.
The 16th Avenue stairs are amazing..beautiful...and I am so very happy to be part of the project and help support the park system.. and I love my Kris."
"One of the very, very, very prime movers (co-chair and webmaster) behind the creation of the Hidden Garden steps, Liz McLoughlin (Lizzie) is my treasured sister-in-law. She brought warmth and love into my beloved older brother's life as well as to the rest of the family. A source of inspiration and generosity, she became my friend."
"This is a nod to my son and his family. My son was raised in San Francisco and now lives on the East Coast. His grandmother, Adah Bakalinsky, "Queen of the SF Stairways" and author of "Stairway Walks in San Francisco", often took him walking with her, when he was young, when researching her stairway walks. I remember one story where they each counted the number of steps of a particular stairway and came up with two different numbers so they had to walk and count them again."
Editor: See Adah Bakalinsky's tile and backstory on Flight G.
"My sister and I contributed this tile to celebrate our parents' 50th wedding anniversary on 8/8/2013. A few years ago, our parents, Alla and Victor Eliashberg, read about the other tiled staircase at Moraga and 16th, and were intrigued. Both avid walkers, they went to visit that staircase, and loved it so much that they took both of us, independently, to go see it when we were out visiting them with our families. When we heard that a second staircase was planned, we decided that a celebratory tile on something beautiful that will be part of the San Francisco landscape for many years to come would be a nice way to mark their important anniversary. Our parents have lived in the Bay Area for over 37 years after our family immigrated to the United States from Russia. They love their tile in the Hidden Steps, and proudly bring friends and family to see it." (C34)