Painted Ladies of San Francisco

The “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco sounds quite scandalous, but is actually a nickname for the city’s Victorian and Edwardian mansions with their genteel pastel hues and feminine façades, lacy wooden mantles and perfectly pitched roofs.

Postcard Row

One of the most photographed vistas is from Alamo Square on the corner of Hays and Steiner where you get a background of the modern city that contrasts with these lovely ladies. It is sometimes known as “Postcard Row.” The houses were built between 1892 and 1896 by developer Matthew Kavanaugh, who lived next door in the 1892 mansion at 722 Steiner Street.  The definition of a painted lady is a Victorian with three or more paint colours. So, even though the seven on Steiner Street are the most famous — there are several other painted ladies in the neighbourhood to enjoy.


Explore the streets, parks and vistas around Scott Street, McAllister, Haight Street, Steiner and Pierce that tell the story of a Victorian era and discover more beautiful mansions, but be warned, it is very hilly around here so it can be quite a strenuous walk. Alamo square is a great place to sit and rest and admire the view after your walk around the neighbourhood.

I walked about 10 blocks from the Misión San Francisco de Asís on 16th Street which is some distance away, through Duboce Park. You can of course take public transport to Alamo Square, but then you’d miss an awful lot of this wonderful architecture. And don’t forget to look up!


This monthly challenge is hosted by Dawn from ‘The Day After’ who invites participants to post pictures of any windows that  they find curious, inviting, photogenic, or in some way tell a story. Visit her blog to see more windows and/or to join in with the challenge.


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I now live back in the UK, but spent several years travelling the world and then living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

62 thoughts on “Painted Ladies of San Francisco”

    1. After my somewhat nervous photo shoot of the murals around Clarion Alley I was relieved to get out onto these streets with the most wonderful architecture. A little Disney-like in some instances, but so different to what we know of Victorian houses.

    1. Apparently the house in the film was at 2640 Steiner Street and other locations in SF. Very similar to that third photo, but with two turrets.

  1. Such a wonderful city to visit if one can hike those hills! I’ve been there many times for business and pleasure, falling in love again each time. Great photo tour of the Painted Ladies!

    1. It’s quite a foreshortened image – the modern city buildings are much further away than they appear. My favourite is the blue one in the first gallery as it is right next to a park 🙂

  2. Great name. I didn’t know they were called that.
    The old British Pathe clippings that have just been released on YouTube include footage of the San Francisco earthquake.

  3. Oh, what a delightful treat for our eyes, it puts a big smile on our faces, big and tiny, seeing all this beauties again.
    San Fransisco is gorgeous, lovely ❤ photos, Jude.
    😀 😀 😀 😀

    1. Magnificent prices I imagine too Colline! You have some gorgeous Victorian architecture in Cabbagetown, Toronto. I must do a post about the houses there!

  4. I love the shapes, the colours and the title. It’s the first time I’ve ever thought “I’d like to visit San Francisco”. I don’t know whether to say thank you or not. I love the horizontal lines of the postcard view.

  5. I would love to see more modern homes painted and decorated like this “Ladies” I think the modern homes being built now in the area I live are so plain and in most cases boring.

  6. I love heritage buildings Jude and these are so beautiful. I didn’t realise they were called the “Painted Ladies” before though, so I’ve learnt something new! I love the pastel colours they are so soothing – I’ve never been to the States but have always thought San Francisco would be worth a visit if I ever do. I love all your photos! 🙂

    1. Thanks Rosemary. I have an interesting post about SF if you want to read it. The link is in a couple of comments. I won’t say any more in case you do read it 🙂

  7. The bus stopped here on the tour we did but hubby (who is the photographer was really disappointed because the sky was cloudy and trees a bit overgrown! They certainly do bring in the tourists with their cameras.

  8. Love these houses. brings back memories of a trip we took to SF in the 80s where I could no longer hide the fact that I was not experienced in
    driving a stick (standard)! I was okay on the flat roads through the midwest, but those hills defeated me every time.

    1. No worries Dawn, we are all busy, busy, busy 🙂
      I just enjoy posting windows when I find some that are interesting. Need to pop over and see what you have this month!

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