How did San Francisco's architeture end up the way it is now : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

I just recently went to San Francisco and I fell in love with all the architecture of the houses, from the detailing on people's gates to other buildings and I'm dying to know how it all got to be the same,the general look of it all is the same but each one's got something different. the reason i post here is because i really dont have time to read a book on s.f architecture and im hoping someone can just give me the quick short form version. thanx

-- sanja s (, September 11, 2004


For starters, we have a very active, very strong historial preservation society. We've got preservationists in nearly every governing body that handles development planning.

We also had some prolific homebuilders, like Sunstream, who put stucco houses up all over the neighborhoods, mostly in the Richmond and Sunset Districts.

The city also has a program where you can deed your house's facade to the historical society: you get a partial land tax deduction in exchange for keeping the facade of the house in its original or restored condition. You can do anything you want with the rest of the house but it's gotta look the same on the street side.

-- Rosa (, September 12, 2004.

A lot of what you see that looks so typically San Francisco are Victorians -- many of which were made from standard plans with mail- order decorative features... (Literally -- you could buy the plans/parts for a house for $800-$2,000 in those days!) so you'll see a lot of buildings with identical framing and different details "stuck on" in a way that makes each unique, and yet fits in perfectly with its neighbors. (Conversely, when Victorian era builders were building the equivalent of spec homes -- a row of 4 or 5 identical or really similar houses -- you'll be able to see the changes that the owners have made over the years to modify/differentiate them - but you can usually still see that the "bones" underneath are the same.) If you're interested in more info, check out SF Architectural Heritage's website: and visit their house museum, the Haas-Lilienthal House (I work there part-time). We also have a small bookstore with books on exactly what you're asking about if you're interested in learning more!

-- Natasha G (, September 16, 2004.

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