West Side Whimsy Walk

Neighborhood: Balboa Terrace/St. Francis Wood/Lakeside


The state of city life in the late 1800s wasn’t great. The inherent problems of having a quarter of a million humans concentrated in an urban landscape — disease, hygiene, living conditions — weren’t being fully dealt with, leaving a dingy, dirty mess for those who called it home. To the legendary architect Daniel Burnham, it was obvious that cities should be planned and designed with the public’s health and well-being in mind. So: he and others began developing the City Beautiful movement.

Introduced at Chicago’s “White City” of the 1893 World’s Fair, City Beautiful was based on the principle that gorgeous, harmonious architecture would inspire civic loyalty. And it was applied in full to several neighborhoods west of Twin Peaks. We’ll explore the remnants of a utopian movement — including Art Deco landmarks, storybook cottages and Spanish castles. We’ll walk through the Balboa Terrace, St. Francis Wood and Lakeside neighborhoods, admiring the detail and ornamentation that went into them. Get a dose of whimsical fun — supplemented by tales you won’t hear anywhere else.

Next Tours

    None scheduled in next 60 days


    There are no restrooms and tour cancels in rain.

    Check Calendar for schedule.

    This tour is offered in Spring and Fall



    Tour Length: Approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours


    Meet at the staircase next to 141 Junipero Serra Blvd.

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    Please note: Private group tours required for groups of 8 or more.