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

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 of the Archdiocese of San Francisco erected in 1971 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 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 archdiocese 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.   Other nicknames include “Our Lady of Perpetual Agitation” and “Our Lady of Maytag” or, more commonly among San Francisco natives, “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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