The woman was seen clinging to the outside of the fire escape, with her back to the street, at the Hamlin Hotel at 385 Eddy St. near Leavenworth Street at about 2:45 p.m.
About 100 people had gathered on the street below to watch, and some were calling to the woman. Many seemed to know her, and were frustrated when police made them move farther away as they blocked off streets.
A person who appeared to be a firefighter pulled the woman from the fire escape into a window just after 3 p.m., drawing applause from the crowd below.
Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza confirmed that police were responding to a report of a suicidal person.