Painted Ladies

These colourful Victorian homes are an icon of the city.

TravelCurious Tip

Enjoy the houses but be aware that people actually live in them!

Between 1849 and 1915 roughly 48,000 houses in the Victorian and Edwardian styles were built in San Francisco. They were made special by their brightly coloured façades, not that the critics of the time thought much of them: “…red, yellow, chocolate, orange, everything that is loud is in fashion...if the upper stories are not of red or blue... they are painted up into uncouth panels of yellow and brown…"

Snobbishness aside, many of these houses found on Nob Hill have gone on to become San Francisco icons. That said, their reputation suffered during the grim days of the World Wars, when they undoubtedly seemed a little too upbeat and frivolous. Surplus battleship grey Navy paint was slapped on to sober things up a little. However, from the 60s onwards the Painted Ladies have enjoyed something of a renaissance. The so-called colorist movement revitalised neighbourhoods and continues to do so today.

Probably the best known Painted Ladies are those that make the row of houses at 710-720 Steiner Street, across from Alamo Square park. Some know it as “Postcard Row,” and it is undeniably picture-perfect. Sit yourself on the grassy square and admire the tight, stepped formation of the Victorian houses against a backdrop of downtown skyscrapers.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in San Francisco
Union Square
This iconic plaza is the perfect place to indulge in a shopping spree.
Cable Cars
San Fran has the world's last manually operated cable car system - an old-fashioned ride with breathtaking views.
Ghirardelli Chocolate
Started by an Italian confectioner in San Francisco during the gold rush, Ghirardelli chocolate is a San Francisco institution and a must for all travelers.
Yerba Buena Gardens
YBG is a sprawling green space across several city blocks, which serves as a respite to the urban jungle which surrounds it.
Ferry Building Marketplace
Now a dedicated marketplace for local vendors, restauranteurs, and artisans, the Ferry Building Marketplace was once the thoroughfare for the ferry, which was the only way to access the city for travelers and commuters until the 1930’s.
Old Saint Mary's Cathedral
Built in the heart of Chinatown, the historical landmark has served as a safe and holy place since the beginning of the Gold Rush.

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