Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Painted Ladies

The streets of San Francisco not only provide a backdrop for television shows but also offer some of the best scenery of the city.

The source of the scenery lies primarily in the city’s Victorian homes. From 1850 to 1900, 48,000 houses were built in this style to accommodate the city's burgeoning population. Many of these houses were lost in the great fire that followed the 1906 earthquake, and others were torn down over the years to makes way for new development. However, thousands of these elegant homes still grace the streets of San Francisco just waiting to be discovered and admired.

One of the best places to view some of the most revered of these Victorians is Alamo Square. This Park consists of six city blocks at the top of a hill overlooking much of San Francisco, with a number of large and architecturally distinctive mansions along the perimeter. Six of those homes are the subjects of one of the most photographed locations in San Francisco--Alamo Square's famous "postcard row" at Hayes and Steiner Streets. (The sixth home on the far right was undergoing a “face lift” and was hidden from view.)

This view of the six homes, often called the "Painted Ladies," includes the fountain and flowers in Alamo Square Park, one of 11 historic districts in the city. This group of Queen Anne homes was built between 1894-95.

This slightly different view of the Ladies highlights the San Francisco skyline. On the far right is the Transamerica Pyramid and the dark building slightly to its left is the Fairmont Hotel. The white curved building left of center is St. Mary’s Cathedral.

After getting a close-up view of two other homes on the Square (see below), we drove past the Painted Ladies. This home is the one on the far right in the fourth photo above.

This home is the third from the right in that same photo.

“Photographing homes from moving vehicle results in “moving” buildings” (old Chinese proverb).

This home (far left in the fourth photo above) was an interesting home next to its more famous neighbors.

Cousin Barbara, our guide and 35+ year resident of San Francisco (until 2000) had found a parking spot on Hayes Street, just south of Alamo Square. This home, near the parking spot, just called out to us to be photographed.

The selections of colors for these Victorian homes often involve several consultations with experts in historic restorations.

The attention to detail on the exteriors of these homes is nothing short of phenomenal. Up close the details are works of art; from a distance, they complete the canvas.

Right next door was another jewel.

The shapes of the railings and the intricate gingerbread presented a striking entrance to this home.

Considering that the homes shown here are only a tiny fraction of San Francisco’s bevy of beauties, photographing the entire array would be quite challenging.

Where are those books Painted Ladies and Painted Ladies Revisited?

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