Plonked down in the grass of Alamo Square on a particularly sunny day in San Francisco, tour buses of every variety pass by the most famous ladies in San Francisco: The Painted Ladies. The ubiquitous hop-on hop-off double deckers and the more private shuttles like Mr Toad Tours hover around the square, past ‘Postcard Row” as this famous row of houses is known.
This is one of those on-the-beaten-path places that defined San Francisco for me before I had ever even been to visit. Mrs Doubtfire criss-crossing her way through Alamo Square, and who can forget the opening credits of Full House (back when I still wasn’t sure why someone would name their kid Mary-Kate Ashley Olsen, not realizing they were twins, or what those twins would become.)
It was in part the extensive TV and Film coverage that caused the roar of tour buses, the crackle of the microphones and the snapping of countless pictures. The funny thing about these ‘Ladies’ is that there are some much more beautifully Painted Ladies in the Haight-Ashbury district which don’t get nearly the attention. Hop off and stay off that tour bus and discover the many other pockets of ‘Ladies’ in San Fran.
And while you’re at Alamo Square, go to the bathroom. Not because the facilities are so clean (which, for public restrooms, they are). Right outside the bathroom, well hidden from the sound of buses squeezing through the hilly San Franciscan streets, there is a creative and quirky collection of plants, potted in discarded shoes found by city gardener David Clifton.
Read more about David and the Shoe Garden in this article in SFGate.