Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

San Francisco, California

Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption

The neighborhood church casts a breast-shaped shadow that locals have come to call the “two o’clock titty.”  

The cathedral erected in 1971 to serve as the community church near Japantown in San Francisco was modeled after the Cathedral of Saint Mary in Tokyo. However, by pure chance, this church came to local fame for a more indelicate reason: its scandalous shadow.

Thanks to a combination of the church’s geographic location and architectural shape, a shadow in the shape of a silhouette of a woman’s breast spreads across the church for all to see each afternoon. Locals have come to call it “two o’clock titty” because the shapely melon can best be seen at this time of day thanks to the angle of the sun.

A local urban legend holds that the owner of the church sued the architects due to the “embarrassment” of the design flaw. Regardless, the place of worship maintains its structural modernistic style.

Some people may discredit this local reputation as a naughty secret passed among young boys. But others simply smirk at the shadow boob as a testament to all the random mishaps that keep life weird and wonderful.  

Its other nickname is Our Lady of Maytag or, more commonly among those born in San Francisco, Mary Maytag (as in the washing machine), because it looks like the agitator. 

Know Before You Go

The boob shadow is best seen around 2 p.m. from the corner of Rose and Octavia.

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