Along the eastern side of Alamo Square Park is one of the most iconic and most photographed sights in San Francisco. These pastel-colored homes, standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the gentle slope of Steiner Street, are called the Painted Ladies. Also known as "postcard row" for their scenic beauty, these Victorian homes (still occupied by locals) are a beautiful reminder of the San Francisco of old, while the gleaming downtown skyline of new San Francisco shimmers in the distance.
Most visitors have this location at the top of their San Francisco bucket lists, as it has been featured in some of the most popular stories set in San Francisco—perhaps most famously, "Full House".
General Visitor Info
The park is surrounded on all sides by beautiful homes—though none as eye-catching as the Painted Ladies. You'll notice that many homes built in the Queen Anne style have similar architectural features: balconies, porches, and incredible height.
Take your time in admiring these homes, and be sure to snap plenty of photos. We think the best shots come when the sun is setting, casting a golden glow over the Painted Ladies.
There are other gorgeous corners of Alamo Square Park. Grassy, open lawns are perfect for a picnic, a ball game, or a run for your four-legged friend. Yep, there's a dog park in the northwest corner of the park. And don't forget about getting a cup of coffee from the Lady Falcon Coffee truck, serving coffee every day from the middle of the park.
How to Get There
From most downtown and Union Square hotels, you can hop on the westbound #5 Muni bus and exit at McAllister and Pierce streets. From there, it's just a short walk to Alamo Square Park.
To reach the Painted Ladies from different points around the city, consult the Muni map.
Just one block west of the park is Divisadero Street, a major thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Travel north on Divisadero to reach Pacific Heights and the Marina. Travel south to reach the Castro and Noe Valley.
Find a Hotel Near the Painted Ladies
Did You Know?
The nickname, the Painted Ladies, is a more recent one. The name took hold in 1978 and doesn't specifically refer to these specific houses, but rather the style of them.
These aren't the only Painted Ladies. They can also be found in Cape May, New Jersey, Baltimore, Maryland, St. Louis, Missouri, and Cincinnati and Toledo, Ohio.
The Painted Ladies symbolize the California Gold Rush. With so much money coming into the city, San Francisco builders wanted to show off their newfound wealth with these grand homes. That’s why they have so many dramatic windows, decorated rooflines, and turrets.
The colorist movement, which took place in the ‘60s, is responsible for the bright colors of the Seven Painted Ladies. During the Second World War, many homes were painted in cheap gray paint and the city looked drab. So a local artist, Butch Kradum, began painting homes in bright blues and greens and it caught on. By the time the ‘70s came around, there were many bright homes in the city.
Movies that included the Painted Ladies:
- The Five-Year Engagement (2012)
- Shut Up Little Man (2011)
- Bicentennial Man (1999)
- So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993)
- Full House (TV show: 1987–1995)
- The Woman in Red (1984)
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
- The Conversation (1974)
- DIrty Harry (1971)