The Victorian Homes tour. This magnificient tour is probably overlooked my most. It is a slow paced walking tour viewing some of the best victorian homes in San Francisco. This particular one was featured in Mrs. Doubtfire.
As I wandered downtown SF (the Union Square area) I was pleased to find far more older buildings than I thought I'd find. I was particularly pleased by the small architectural details from the 1920s and 30s which I spotted.
There's more architectural interest in the Union Square area than one might expect. It's worth taking a wander along the cross-streets, just looking closely at the older buildings...especially towards the rooflines and around the windows.
More photos in my travelogue
This tip is very short, but I'd be fascinated to know if my theory is correct.
On my wanderings I noticed a couple...just a couple...of brick buildings which had a sort of 'sub-rustication' going on as an exterior decoration.
Bricks and half-bricks were inserted at random into the courses, so that the exterior walls looked 'ragged'.
But that's not what intrigued me. It was the fact that so many of the sticking-out bricks seemed to have been heat-damaged, with shiny, almost glazed surfaces in some parts.
And I wondered...and I may well be wrong...if these few buildings were constructed using some of the debris from the devastating fire which followed the 1906 earthquake, where I can imagine that the heat of the fire might..might...have 'melted' some brick surfaces.
Maybe I'm over-imagining and these bricks were deliberately created to give a part-glazed effect, but they all seemed pretty random to me.
Anyone know for certain?
Some people like to see the works of well known architects. If so, San Francisco has more than its share. The new San Francisco Public Library (near City Hall) was designed by I.M.Pei. John Portman designed Embarcadero Center, a 5 building development near the Ferry Building at the end of Market Street. The Transamerica Pyramid was designed by William Periera in 1973. Some people like to eat lunch in the atrium of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill's 101 2nd Street building.
Some people like to look at the outsides of big houses. In San Francisco, the big houses are in Sea Cliff (near 49th Avenue in the Richmond District) and Presidio Heights (around Washington Street near Arguello Blvd.). Hillsborough, a suburb south of San Francisco, has larger homes. Marin County (north of San Francisco) has expensive real estate.
Except for our parks, public San Francisco is not a particularly green city. One of our best kept secrets is that the shoulder to shoulder facades of our residences hide thousands of beautiful private gardens.
Real Esate Open Houses are a good way to see these gardens and the inside of private Victorian houses while mingling with the natives without hanging out in bars.
Open house are possibly unique to the United States real estate market and are very popular throughout the country. On Sunday afternoon, realtors invite the public to visit residential properties which they are selling.
Just pick up the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle and find the addresses and hours in the Real Estate section. Properties are listed by neighborhood and some good neighborhoods for traditional San Francisco architecture are: Noe Valley, Upper Market, Pacific Heights, Western Addition, North Beach, Marina.
Don't be self conscious if you have no intention of buying property here. Most of the people you run into are also just kicking tires.
City Hall - way up Market Street then down a little side street to the right. I only came across it because I was staying in a youth hostel a block away. If you've ever seen a Dirty Harry movie, you'll probably recognise this place.
SF City Guides has been offering walking tours to the public for over 30 years. Nowadays, more than 20 thousand people participate in it annually.
It is run by locals, who have to pass an exam in order to qualify and become a tour guide.
Anyway.. I would like to talk about the tour of Palace Hotel that I took today. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon. :)
DURATION: 1.5 hours.
LOCATION: Lobby of the hotel. 2 New Montgomery Str at Market.
TIME: At 2pm every Thursday.
Our guide was very knowledgeable, told many interesting stories, showed copies of old pictures, hotel lobby, spectacular restaurants and halls. There were only 10 people total on the tour, so it was convenient for both - our guide and us.
NOTE: Do not forget to donate some cash at the end of the tour. It helps to keep the City Guide organization alive!!!
Every trip to San Francisco should include seeing the Transamerica Building. It's pretty unusual looking but seems to blend in to San Francisco just fine! Should you want to take pictures, the best vantage point to do it is the hike up to the Coit Tower
'Smallest house in San Francisco'(so I believe), it's in Telegraph Hill (when i find the address I will put it in). Although don't forget it is someone's house.