Birthplace of Isadora Duncan – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

Birthplace of Isadora Duncan

Home of modern dancer famously strangled by her own scarf. 


Isadora was known as a mother of modern dance, and defied the current social and dance conventions. She favored barefeet, flowing clothing, loose hair, and free form movements. Her communist leanings and unconventional - some might say scandalous– love life made her a controversial figure. She has since appeared in pop culture, including a 1968 film in which she was portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave.

The plaque at 501 Taylor Street on Lower Nob Hill, near the Theater District in San Francisco commemorates Isadora Duncan’s place of birth, but she is also famous for the circumstances of her death. While riding in a convertible in Nice, France in 1927, her long scarf, a signature accessory she was known for, became caught in the wheel of the car. She was ripped out of the vehicle by her neck and dragged several yards before the chauffeur was able to stop. Her death was officially caused by strangulation, however it’s said she was almost decapitated by the fashion statement she just couldn’t live without.

Coincidentally, years earlier her children were tragically and avoidably killed in a motor vehicle. After being seated in a car on a hill, the driverless vehicle began to roll, and plunged over a bridge and into the Seine, where the children perished along with a nanny that was accompanying them.

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