The term Painted Ladies was first coined by authors Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their book Painted Ladies San Francisco's Resplendent Victorians, which describe the multicolored Victorian homes located throughout the country. To qualify as a Painted Lady, a house must be Victorian style in architecture and have at least three colors. Painted Ladies have appeared in many movies and television series including the opening sequence of the sitcom Full House.
Painted Ladies are not exclusive to San Francisco and can be found in many American cities such as New Orleans, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Baltimore. There are approximately 50,000 Victorian style houses built in San Francisco between 1850 and 1915. Many were painted in multiple colors as a way to enhance their architectural details. During World War I and World War II many of the homes were painted gray with surplus navy paint.
In the early 1960's a San Francisco artist named Butch Kardum painted his house several bright colors and started a trend in his neighborhood, which ended up being the re-birth of the Painted Lady. One of the most famous section painted ladies is located in the 700 block of Steiner Street across from Alamo Square Park in San Francisco.