Fresh off my new year’s resolutions, I explored my first new SF neighborhood of the year – Western Addition – this past weekend. A friend and I visited the neighborhood on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and we were able to walk around the beautiful and serene Alamo Square Park while catching a glimpse of the Painted Ladies – the famous colorful Victorian houses seen on many postcards, TV shows, and movies from the past century.
Western Addition has a storied history, being one of the neighborhoods that survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the home of a once-vibrant jazz scene. The neighborhood itself lies squarely in the middle of the city and boasts many unique small businesses and restaurants. Walking around, I sensed a distinct neighborhood feel – gone were the apartment complexes of downtown, with beautiful single houses stretching down entire avenues.
Many travelers come to Western Addition to catch a glimpse of the famous Painted Ladies across from Alamo Square Park. Also known as “Postcard Row,” these seven houses are famous as a representation of the city of San Francisco (they’re the houses in the opening credits of Full House, for example). Each house is uniquely painted and quite breathtaking when lit up by the golden afternoon sun. These houses are so popular that the city recently voted to ban tour buses from the area due to noise and pollution.
Thankfully, there weren’t any double-decker tour buses there to spoil an otherwise perfect view. Alamo Square Park itself was very nice, almost like the bigger sister of the rowdy and fun Dolores Park in the Mission. There was a mix of people, from tourists to locals, sitting and standing around the grass, chatting, taking pictures, drinking wine, playing with their dogs, and otherwise just enjoying a nice day out.
I was initially inspired to check out the Painted Ladies after reading an in-depth post on the Bold Italic about one of the houses (the writer was actually invited by the owner inside and took lots of pictures). I’m definitely glad to have gone – even though it’s touristy I had to experience it at least once!