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I loved this square, calm and quiet even managed to sit on a bench for a while, people watching. Of course what is interesting are the Victorian townhouses just sitting there begging to be photographed, especially with the backdrop of S.F. skyline behind.
Painted Ladies of Alamo Square
I find it fascinating to learn about a place a little more than just its name and address. It is much more interesting to look at something and actually know its history.. So, here it goes:
Before Alamo Square became a square, it was a hill used as horseback trail from Mission Dolores to the Presidio. In 1856 city Mayor James Van Ness set aside 12.7 acres and named it Alamo Square. It became a public park next year.
Nowadays Alamo Square Park is a part of Alamo Square Historic District (which includes about 280 properties). It happened in 1984.
BTW, alamo = poplar tree (in Spanish). Alamo Hill was covered with them in the early 1800s, hence the name.
As for six famous 'ladies', they were built between 1892 and 1896 during the Queen Anne style era. The developer, Matthew Kavanagh, living next door at that time, sold them for $3,500 each. Now they would go for at least $2 million.
Nowadays, these houses are referred to as: ''Six Sisters", ''Painted Ladies'', “Postcard Row” and G*d knows what else.. :-)
It is a popular spot because six Victorians, downtown and bridges behind them create a cocktail of old and new.
Just make sure you go there on a sunny day, if you want to become a happy owner of the famous shot.
To Get There: MUNI buses #5, 21 (runs on Market Str), 22 (runs on Fillmore), and 24 (runs on Divisadero).
NOTE: SF City Guides offers FREE guided tour of the park on the 1st & 3rd Saturdays of the month at 11am and on the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of the month at 11am. Meet in front of 824 Grove Str.
- Budget Travel
The Seven Sisters of Alamo Park
"Some people refer to them as The Seven Sisters, while some say The Six...but in any event these grand PAINTED LADIES have been photographed, filmed and ogled at by countless numbers (picures 1 & 2). They are the Victorians of Alamo Square Park.
As I snapped photos of these genteel beauties, our grandson climbed the low hanging branches at the park (picture 3) and someone loudly expressed his political thoughts -- sightseers gave him wide berth.
Behind the aged homes, the skyline of San Francisco loomed...contrasting the historically preserved and the intensely alive!
- Family Travel
Ah, the painted ladies
Not sure whether this falls into the category of 'Things to do' or just 'Things to see' :)
When I was a boy I used to watch the sitcom "Full House" and they had the row of painted ladies in the opening credits. So when I went to SF for the first time I just had to see it :)
The painted ladies of Alamo square is probably about 1 mile west of the BART station Civic Center. Again there's nothing to do there in itself but you've got a great view of a San Francisco icon - and on a clear day (not in the foggy mornings) you can see the financial district with the iconic transamerica pyramid in the background.
This scene of familiar looking Victorian homes line Alamo Square. The downtown San Francisco skyline is just vivsble in background. Go visit the painted ladys and enjoy the relaxing park complete with dog trails and playground equipment.
See the "Painted Ladies" in their glory!
The Painted Ladies is the name given to a set of original and restored and painted up Victorian style row houses on the east of the grassed area known as Alamo Square.
To get to these famous San Francisco landmarks you need to take bus number 21 from along Market Street.
You won't be alone in photographing these buildings from Alamo Square. I wonder how the inhabitants feel about the hordes gawking at their homes.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Visit a beach
There are two beaches I generally go to in San Francisco -- Ocean Beach or Bakers Beach.
Ocean beach is the larger of the two. However I prefer Bakers Beach which is closer to where I live. If the weather is right, it is beautiful. Bakers Beach gives view to the opening of the bay. It is beautiful with a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. There is one downfall to this beach (or benefit depending on how you look at it). Bakers Beach is partially a nude beach. The left half is clothed, the right is not so much. However rangers are strict on enforcing the boundary so you don't need to worry about seeing anything unwanted. Anyway, like I said, if the weather is right, it's worth it.
- Family Travel
This square was close by where my friend lived so we passed it on one of our walks. The park has appeared in various films and television series, the most notable of which probably is Full House. The opening sequence features Alamo Square park and the famous row of Victorian Houses that can be seen with the city's skyline beyond.
- Arts and Culture
Visit the 'Painted Ladies'
Probably the most photographed block of houses in the world. The "painted ladies" is a row of Victorian houses by Alamo Square in the Western Addition district. From the park across, you can see the San Francisco skyline beyond their rooftops.
Here they are, the famous “Painted Ladies”…just as the postcard view but in 3D !
Very popular of course… the place attracts a lot of people who come here to see the contrast between the Victorian houses and the skyline of Downtown San Francisco in the background.
But the Six Sisters are not the only sight worth it in the area. I discovered that the neighborhood counts many old mansions and cute stylish houses everywhere To such an extend that it became Historic District around 1984.
Everyone recognizes that row of well-maintained Victorians with the downtown skyline in the background. It's the quintessential San Francisco scene. Alamo Square is a great place for taking pictures. Tourists and locals walking their dogs, they're all here. If it's a sunny day, stop and have a picnic. Or you can try to guess which one of the Painted Ladies was home to the Tanners on "Full House" haha.
Here is a local secret. Make your way to the top of the park and look for a garden shed. What do you see? Look very closely and you will see a 'shoe garden'. Lots and lots of shoes of all description with flowers or grass growing in them. Count how many different shoes you can see.
This is from artist, Liz Hickok, who has a series of work called San Francisco in Jell-O.
The Famous Victorian "Painted Ladies"
This was one of our "Tourist" spots we had to go see for ourselves since the postcards always look so picturesque.
I have to say that of all the things we did in San Francisco this was kind of a disappointment. No doubt it has a great view from here, but when we went Alamo Square it was unkept. The grass was tall,the weeds were tall, the trees needed trimming, there were high school kids hanging out (when school was in session) smoking and it just didn't look like a great spot to have a family picnic or anything. No warm fuzzy feelings here. Maybe we picked a bad day, but it wasn't the park like setting I had imagined.
The view of the "Painted Ladies" with the city behind was beautiful though and made it worth the stop.
- Hiking and Walking
Alamo Square - The 1906 earthquake.
When we were in San Francisco we had a hard time to imagine that nearly 514 blocks of houses in San Francisco were destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire. Many beautiful examples of nineteenth century Victorian architecture were lost in that disaster.
We learned that (lucky enough) some 14,000 Victorians have been preserved in several streets in the city. The houses at the eastside of Alamo Square may be the best known over the world. At least they were for us! The view of these colourful Victorian houses, or "Painted Ladies", with the San Francisco skyline in the backdrop, have graced many postcards and movie scenes.
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
If you want to save $ on postcards
Though you may have never been here before, you've seen Alamo Square a million times. A favorite postcard view - pictured on such TV shows as "Full House" and that horrible show with Brooke Shields (what was that called?) - no view is as quintessentially San Francisco as the famous row of 6 Victorians with the city skyline looming in the background.
Alamo Square is a 4-square block patch on the top of a hill just north of Haight Street in the Lower Haight neighborhood. The famous view is looking east, towards downtown. Surrounding Alamo Square on all sides are many beautiful houses, mostly of the "stick style," which was the 1880-1890 period, immediately preceding the Victorians. There aren't any cafes or anything on the square, but if you walk downhill to Haight St, or go downhill on Fillmore heading north, you'll find coffee and food.
The Zen Center is pretty close to here (I'll try putting a tip on it soon), and the Lower Haight is just down the hill.
Alamo Square is pretty safe at night, though it is close to an unsafe area a couple blocks downhill and to the East. This would be Buchanan Street - the designated crack dealing area. The corner of Page & Buchanan in particular should be avoided. There used to be some gnarly housing projects in this neighborhood, but the replacement housing has cleaned up the area considerably.
VERY IMPORTANT PHOTO NOTE - if you want to take some serious pictures here, come in the afternoon! The morning light is no good; the Victorian house-fronts will be in shadow.
Alamo Square also happens to be 3 blocks from my house. So if you're going to be in the neighborhood, send me an e-mail and I'll meet you for coffee!
The northern part of Baker Beach is designated a clothing option (nude) beach. There's a long stretch where you're free to walk about & swim nude. At the north tip you can view the Golden Gate Bridge.
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