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Looking for Mrs. Madrigal

I have only started to read the Tales of the City series, which famously describes a skein of characters, native and transplanted, to which Armistead Maupin thoroughly lays claim as an author. The dynamics of his tales and his uniquely etched characters truly up live to an Oscar Wilde’s saying that Maupin himself quotes at the beginning of the book: “It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.” What amazes me even more is that the main setting of the series is actually in my own neighborhood. Macondray Lane is a small pedestrian lane on the south-eastern side of Russian Hill in San Francisco. A wooded enclave in the heart of the city, and very inconspicuous, it was recast by Armistead Maupin as Barbary Lane. I just had the pleasure to visit this wonderful literary landmark (not known to tourists).

The entrance of Macondray Lane is on taylor Street between Green and Union, up the scaffold of wooden stairs.

At the top of the wooden steps I was able to grace the cobble stone and the lane opened up to have historic buildings on both sides. This is a mythical place, one of those places that make San Francisco the most wonderful place to live. As to Mrs. Madrigal’s house, I cannot really find it since there is no Number 28.

What a beautiful, romantic, out-of-the-way place! While I wouldn’t suggest going too far out of the way for this place, but if you like Tales of the City, you would love what Macondray Lane has to offer. I enjoy the tiny pool and the bench where I can sit and read, and enjoy the quietness.

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing these pictures:-) I love Maupin, especially The Tales Of The City books and have always wondered if Barbary Lane existed, now I know. You live in a beautiful city.

    • I cannot believe this is my first time going to seek the alley out and it’s in my neighborhood! I saw Maupin and his partner at the restaurant. He’s very kind to those who went up to ask for his autographs. I refrained from doing that because I wanted to left him to his privacy.

  2. This is on my to-do list when I get back to the city… I’m ambivalent about Tales of the City, but a book nerd’s gotta do what a book nerd’s gotta do. And I love finding hidden spots like this in SF!

  3. San Francisco is a magical place! I love the pictures and that view is to die for!

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