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Painted Ladies and Alamo Square

Painted Ladies, Steiner Street, San Francisco

In the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco is a neighborhood and park known as Alamo Square (37 deg 46′ 34.98″ N, 122 deg 26′ 4.95″ W). The park comprises six city blocks on top of a hill that overlooks much of San Francisco. On one side of the park is Steiner Street, with its famous row (712-720 Steiner Street) of Victorian houses, the Painted Ladies. These houses were built between 1892 and 1896 by the developer, Matthew Kavanaugh, who lived at 722 Steiner Street. Even on the foggy (August!) day pictured above, you can make out the Transamerica Pyramid downtown. The area is characterized by Victorian architecture and the demographics are characteristic of the gentrification that has occurred – many young people and upper-middle-class homeowners.

The term “Painted Ladies” was first used for San Francisco Victorian houses by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their book, “Painted Ladies – San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorians,” according to Wikipedia. About 48,000 houses in the Victorian and Edwardian (after Queen Victoria died in 1901) styles between 1849 and 1915, and many were painted in bright colors. Some of these, in other neighborhoods, like Nob Hill, were destroyed in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. Another 16,000 were demolished, and some were painted battleship gray with war surplus paint or had their Victorian decor stripped off or covered. The colorist movement restored bright coloration to these homes, starting in the early 1960s and continuing to this day.

As you can see from these photos (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), the Alamo Square neighborhood is home to a number of beautiful homes, in addition to the most famous ones.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide! If you don’t see what you want or would like to receive an email when new photos are up on the site, send us an email at

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