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San Francisco Tour of Victorian Homes

Updated on January 22, 2011

The "sub-styles" of Victorian houses in San Francisco

Style:Queen Anne. Identified by columns of classical design and spindle-shaped woodworking. In  general the style was popular from about 1880 to 1910.
Style:Queen Anne. Identified by columns of classical design and spindle-shaped woodworking. In general the style was popular from about 1880 to 1910.
Stick style. This style resembles the protruding woodwrk, ornaments and even half timbering (in some cases) of medieval construction. Popular style from about 1840-1855.
Stick style. This style resembles the protruding woodwrk, ornaments and even half timbering (in some cases) of medieval construction. Popular style from about 1840-1855.
Italianate style. You can see that the tower resembles towers you might find in Florence, Italy. The roofs are flate and the eaves are wide and there are tall windows with arches at the tops.Populare about 1840-1855.
Italianate style. You can see that the tower resembles towers you might find in Florence, Italy. The roofs are flate and the eaves are wide and there are tall windows with arches at the tops.Populare about 1840-1855.
Another Italianate Style Victorian
Another Italianate Style Victorian

Exercise While Touring

One reason I moved to San Francisco is that it is one of the best walking cities in the country. Certain streets, like California Street or Sutter Street give you a constantantly changing view of home and commercial architecture, interesting shops and gardens. For people-watching, there is no end of variety from blue spiked hair to fashion clothes. Another thing, I just put my gym membership on hold for the summer months (summer begins in July in Sand Francisco; more about the weather here later) because it's time to start long distance hikes on the lengthy thoroughfares and very respectable workouts up and down the famous hills of San Francisco. You can lose a lot of weight and keep limber just checking out the sights of the city.

And, of course, some of the greatest sights in the city are the Victorian houses left over from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The photos below show the varieties of that kind of architecture so that if and when you come to the City by the Bay you can appreciate that variety and a little of its history.

Tour guide explains architecture and history. Snippet of a guided tour of houses of San Francisco.

This city is so diverse. Yesterday I went for a walk in what's known as the Tenderloin--that is an are of poverty, alcoholism and other illnesses and people preying on each other in various ways. I must say, too, that there are many signs of people and organizations helping each other, also. I feel very sad when I see people in wheel chairs, hair falling out, cheeks emaciated. Possibly some have AIDS, others may have other diseases and cannot afford the medicines. I would guess that since tuberculosis is on the rise in the world and the U.S., there may be some incidences of that disease, too.

In this district (the Tenderloin--from California to McAllister, Van Ness to Jones) there is a variety of ethnicities and life styles. The southern area is Asian, especially Vietnamese and there are number of stores offereing Middle Eastern foods and colored blown-glass objects. There are types that look and sound like they are from Oklahoma or Texas and there are a number of Latin Americans, some I spoke with were from Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador.

There are perhaps two coffee shops on each block and on the weekend they are usually full. There is a donut shop I like which is the only place I know to get apple pan dowdy (as in the song shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy).

Just north of the Tenderloin, in the northern stretch of Polk Street is the opposite of the depressed area. Here there are not only coffee shops but a specialized tea shop, an extremely popular oyster shop, many stores with expensive baubles and beads, pet stores and pet washers, etc. etc. The hardware stores are interesting because they carry both the bare necessity hardware such as door locks for iffy apartment houses  and hotels and upscale restoration hardware for yuppies moving in a little bit up Russian Hill.

There's a crepe shop that gives discounts to students at the School of Art that seems to have buildings on every block in San Francisco, there's a computer repair shop, a New Age bookstore and a used bookstore with a stock of uninteresting and badly printed tomes.

In the heart of the Tenderloin, on Larkin Street is the European Bookstore that specializes in French-language books and magazines. Why? Because around the corner is the building that houses the classrooms of the the San Francisco Alliance Francaise. The students of the Alliance also frequent a nearby internet café the sells excellent pastry including a rhubarb strawberry pie that I fattened up on in my walk.


A survey of the decorative details of many of the most famous Victorian houses in San Francisco

Authentic San Francisco-constant sirens-and a good view of Francis Ford Coppola's former home and nearby Victorians.

This is the self-description of the Red Victorian Bed and Breakfast

Picture yourself in a full fledged historical Peace Center, peace art gallery, café, b&b and gathering place for folks from all over the world who are excited about talking, learning, teaching ways to create a Peaceful World. In the heart of San Francisco’s historic Haight-Ashbury district of Summer of Love fame, our 18 themed guest rooms

Please click here to explore our guest rooms!

allow you to help fund our non-profit Peaceful World Foundation’s mission of teaching, learning and modeling peace by bringing together diverse travelers from everywhere. We are TV free, have private and shared fun bathrooms, are 2 blocks from Golden Gate Park and are very serious about modeling with you a human environment that inspires emulation around the world.

A room in the Red Victorian Bed and Breakfast

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      Harlan Lewin 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for your comment, Sun-Girl.

    • Sun-Girl profile image

      Sun-Girl 

      7 years ago from Nigeria

      Nice and useful bu which can serve as a good documentary.

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