Currently out of the 87 statues in San Francisco, just 2 percent honour historic women. These 3 statues are of nurse Florence Nightingale, artist Georgia O’Keeffe and US Senator Dianne Feinstein, the first woman ever elected as mayor of San Francisco. As well as this, only 15 percent of the city’s 358 public artworks are created by female artists.
However, in 2018 San Francisco passed a new ordinance which introduced a quota requiring that at least 30 percent of new artworks being installed on city streets depict real-life women! The first of these will be a bust of the poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou who, after moving to San Francisco as a teenager, became the first black woman to serve as s city streetcar conductor, aged just 16. She soon left the city to pursue a career in entertainment, but visited often and maintained many close friendship
Catherine Stefani, of San Francisco’s board of supervisors quite rightly says ‘“When we see streets, public buildings and works of art we will finally see the women who have impacted the world.”
Current Statues of Women in San Francisco
Florence Nightingale was an English nurse and has been hailed as the ‘founder of modern nursing.’ She became famous during the Crimean War, where she organized the tending to wounded soldiers and became an icon known as "The Lady with the Lamp" making rounds along wounded soldiers at night. You can find her statue made by David Edstrom, at the Laguna Honda Hospital.
Dianne Feinstein was elected San Francisco's first female mayor in 1979 and became one of the nation's most visible and recognised leaders. In 1992, when she was elected to the Senate, she and Barbara Boxer became the first female senators from California. She holds many records, including being the oldest sitting U.S. Senator, the longest-tenured female U.S. senator currently serving, and if she serves her current full term until 2025 she will become the longest serving woman Senator in history. You can find her her bust, sculpted by Lisa Reinertson in San Francisco city hall.
Georgia O'Keeffe was an American artist. She was best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. O'Keeffe has been recognised as the "Mother of American modernism." Her sculpture by Marisol Escobar can be found at Sidney Walton Square.