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.
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