San Francisco: Fire Escapes

So on my recent trip to San Francisco, I got the idea in my head that I would take some series of photographs of things that I found in abundance, with variety and that I really liked to look at (and look for!) around the city.  My first theme?  Fire escapes, of course!  They are everywhere, especially in the downtown area.  Some of them are so ornate, I caught myself wondering if they were really up there for function, or just because they look so darn cool on the side of a building!

Here are some of my favourite photos, given an old-timey feel thanks to the ever fantastic instagram:

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2 thoughts on “San Francisco: Fire Escapes

  1. Good idea. I’ve always liked fire escapes, but recently I’ve found myself paying special attention to them as elements of design. I haven’t looked into the matter, but I’d be interested to know the exact period of time in which exterior fire escapes were mandated as part of building designs. My guess is that for residential buildings they were required for 3+ story apartment houses but optional in single-family homes, but I could be wrong…

  2. Hannah S. says:

    They are fascinating, and totally captivating. It would appear that the fire escape became a regulated aspect of structures in 1860 and were constructed for around 70 years. There’s a really great thesis article on the fire escape here: as well as a blog post with some good info here:

    Thanks for the interesting and thought-provoking comment!

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