San Francisco has 260 structures or properties officially proclaimed “San Francisco Designated Landmarks.” In 1967, the planning code was amended to give the City authority to protect these properties from what is deemed “inappropriate alterations.” And the official list includes many of our most historic and grand homes, those which survived the 1906 earthquake and fire.
Visitors come from all over the world to gaze at our Victorian and Edwardian period homes known as the “painted ladies,” including the famous row of houses that border Alamo Square. Here is a fun clip showing exactly why “painted ladies” is a very appropriate name. The architectural tour begins and ends with the Alamo Square row of houses:
During the 1960s, some of these grand houses were not thought of as “grand” anymore and had cheap rents. Some had famous inhabitants. The Grateful Dead lived in a Victorian-style house in the Haight. Right across the street from the Dead, the Hells Angels set up housekeeping. And on the roof of one of the houses, ballet stars Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev got arrested and were criminally charged with “being in place where marijuana was kept.” They were never prosecuted.
If you want a San Francisco-themed gift for someone on your holiday list this year, here are two ideas relating to our unique architecture:
www.haightashburytour.com – The Haight Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tour will lead you through one of the most famous neighborhoods in the world. You will see some landmark properties and hear about the famous inhabitants. Hint: The Grateful Dead house is currently painted purple.
www.victorianalliance.org – You can join this nonprofit organization to learn more about how to support the restoration and preservation of San Francisco’s historic buildings. They host monthly talks in some of the landmark buildings. And in October, they invite the public to tour a selection of restored homes.