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Nob Hill - bits and pieces
Favorite thing: After I'd seen the best of what Nob Hill had to offer I wandered the nearby streets of Huntington Park and came across these little jewels.
Fondest memory: I love strolling and checking out architecture; not because I am an architect but it makes cities such a more pleasureable place if you take in the gems that you see here.
Instead of being fixated on the next box you have to tick off you can thoroughly enjoy yourself just taking notice of what's around you that your travel agent never told you about. Enjoy.
- Hiking and Walking
Nob Hill - Pacific Union Club
Favorite thing: I stumbled across Nob Hill, searching for some architectural delights. Suffice it to say by the time I left about an hour late, I was sated.
One building got me curious though and that was this one. It had an air of mystery about it and that air was borne out after subsequent research. It was only in recent times that women were allowed in and then only to certain places which sort of sums it up really.
There's an old style regimented structure to the club and beware those who try to usurp it. That's the way the members like it.
This private social club located at 1000 California Street in San Francisco, California, at the top of Nob Hill was founded in 1889 as a merger of two earlier clubs: the Pacific Club (founded 1852) and the Union Club (founded 1854).
The clubhouse was built as the home for the silver magnate James Clair Flood. The former Flood Mansion is located in the Nob Hill neighborhood. It was designed by Willis Polk. It is considered the first brownstone constructed west of the Mississippi River. Along with the Fairmont Hotel across the street, these were the only structures in the area to survive the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.
This club figured prominently in the history of the west coast of the United States. Many prominent citizens have been active among its membership. To this day, the club's membership remains all male per its charter .
Fondest memory: Obviously, common folk such as myself are not tolerated in such a place and the average tourist is not going to see the interior. Having said that, just walking around it was a pleasure in itself.
This building in italianate style, also known as the Flood Mansion, is one of the few that survived the fire of 1906. It was built in 1886 by architect Augustus Laver for James Flood, known as the bonanza king since his wealth was the result of the discovery of a bonanza. After the fire the burnt-out building was purchased and renovated by the Pacific-Union Club, a private social club with its roots in the goldrush era.
- Business Travel
- Historical Travel
Beauty and the Concrete Jungle
Favorite thing: One of my favourite things to do while in San Francisco was riding the cable cars and admiring the colourful and beautiful houses. I was very impressed by the architecture and the uniqueness of San Francisco homes relative to other homes in the U.S. Traveling up and down San Fran's hills I really got to appreciate the people that live in these houses, maybe being a little envious of them. They have great views of San Francisco, beautiful and well trimmed trees lined up along their streets, each home colourful, unique and different from the one next to them. Who wouldn't be just a little jealous of them, living in such a great city?
There were also some buildings that caught my eye. Like the Westin St. Francis Hotel in front of Union Square on Powell St. It looks majestic with three columns jutting out and two inner courtyards, it resembles a palace. And looking out over Union Square, it's in the perfect location. Other beautiful and innovative buildings are Macy's, Coit Tower, the Sir Francis Drake Hotel and the TransAmerica building.
So when in San Francisco make sure to take the time out to admire everything around you.
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: Although the term can also be used to describe loose women, San Francisco's famous Painted Ladies are multi color houses built during Victorian and Edwardian times (roughly the mid 1800s to about 1915), most frequently in the 3 story Queen Anne style. We didn't see the most famous of the painted ladies in Alamo Square, 712-720 Steiner Street, but I think they actually look kind of dull compared to the ones we stumbled across in the Haight Ashbury district although they do appear to be easier to photograph without the annoying overhead wires. Technically a painted lady must be painted in three or more colors, they also usually have a lot of architectural embellishments making them look like gingerbread houses.
Don't ask me what streets we were on when I took these photos but all of them were just a block or two off Haight Street to the east of Ashbury.
Photo 1 is the grandest of all the painted ladies we saw as it sits on a corner and you can see the entire house, not just the front facade plus it's painted in a bazillion colors, not just the minimum three.
Photos 2 and 3 are the more typical painted ladies in the 3 story Queen Anne style
Photo 4 are the most brilliant houses we saw, some people might think they are a little garish but I think they are fabulous
Photo 5 is a store on Haight Street
Favorite thing: San Francisco is home to many unusual looking buildings. One such structure is the former armory. This historic brick building resembles a medieval fortress, complete with towers and battlements. Many of its windows are mere slits, resembling the olden openings of castles designed for firing arrows. A number of bricks protrude from the face of the building giving an illusion that the walls can be scaled.
The building has been retired as an armory for several years. A developer purchased the property with the intent of converting it to housing. This met with strong neighborhood opposition. A seconded planned use was during the dot com bubble where it was proposed that the old building be converted for use by internet business. Again the neighborhood mobilized to stop another use deemed to be unacceptable by them.
The frustrated developer recently sold the property quietly. It was purchased by a company specializing in adult films that are distributed over the internet. The purchase price exceeded fourteen million dollars. The new owner, although complying with the City's planning codes, minimized public input. When the new owners announced their plans to move from a warehouse a few blocks away into the building, the neighborhood was outraged. However, as all was legal and it was now unrelated to the government's transfer of the property, no means existed for the neighborhood to block the occupancy.
The new owners have occupied the buildings and apparently are giving the old armory some long needed deferred maintenance. They are apparently slowly acclimating into their new surroundings. Their announced intent is to convert the building into general use sound stages for use by more mainstream film companies.
Fondest memory: The pirate flag flying over the armory and the body hanging from the flagpole are Halloween decorations. I did a double take when I first saw them. Typically the U.S. or California state flag can be seen flying over the armory.
The building is located at Mission and 14th Streets. It nearly occupies an entire city block. There is no public access.
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Old San Francisco Mint
Favorite thing: The Old US Mint in San Francisco was constructed in 1874 iin Greek style, and survived the 1906 earthquake. The mint played a key role in the Gold Rush, and at one time its vault held two thirds of the US gold reserves. In 1937 the Old Mint, which was ranked by the General Services Administration as the second most important government building in the country for its historical and architectural significance, closed to be replaced by a new mint. This was the second of three mints in San Francisco; the original San Francisco mint went into use in 1852, and the new US Mint is still in use, manufacturing regular proof and silver proof coin sets.
The Mint Project is underway, which will take the beautiful but abandoned Old Mint building, and remodel it for use as the Museum of San Francisco and the Bay Area, the American Money Museum, a proposed new location for the San Francisco Visitors Information Center, a Museum Store, several dining and retail venues, and rental space for events and cultural festivals. The Mint Project also includes conversion of Jesse Street into a pedestrian area called Mint Plaza, closed to traffic and redesigned to accommodate a wide range of uses, including art, live music, cafés, and street fairs.
The Old Mint is located in SOMA at the corner of Mission and 5th Streets, easy walking distance from Union Square.
A city of architectural richness.
Favorite thing: I was impressed and intrigued by the range of architecture in San Francisco. This picture is from the Marina district, where art-deco style (I think) houses dominate. This is a quiet neighbourhood and seemingly off the beaten trail, so it's nice to stroll around and take photographs.
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: San Francisco City Hall is home to both the City and County of San Francisco Government (since the city and county share the same geographical boundaries, they share a government). Designed by architect Arthur Brown Jr. (who also built Coit Tower and the War Memorial Opera House), City Hall opened in 1915 as a replacement to an earlier city hall that was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. It's massive 66-foot diameter stands 307.5 feet above the ground and is considered the fifth largest dome in the world. The building was remodeled after damage in the 1989 earthquake, and is considered the largest seismic retrofit project in the world. City Hall's most famous events include Joe DiMaggio & Marilyn Monroe's wedding, the public viewing of President Warren G. Harding who died in the city while still serving as President, and the assassination of city Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.
The City Hall Rotunda can be rented for $10,000 to $30,000 per evening depending on the number of guests.
Located at 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place near the intersection of Market and Van Ness, it is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tours are given Monday - Friday 10:00 am, 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm and last 45 minutes. City Hall is accessible via the Civic Center BART or Muni Stations.
Victorian Houses of San Francisco
Favorite thing: Driving around the neighborhood west of Van Ness Avenue, you will find beautiful maintained Victorian style houses along Pacific Heights, Western Addition, Haight and Fillmore.
These are elegant homes that were safe from the fire that broke out after the 1906 Great Earthquake.
There are six of Victorian houses in a row made famous and are called "Painted Ladies" of San Francisco. See if you can find them when you are there.
SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL
Favorite thing: Built in 1915 and now a National Historic Landmark SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL is known as the "Crown Jewel" of San Francisco.
The architect was Arthur Brown Jr.
The Dome rises to 306 feet and is such an impressive building, which is the location of many civil weddings.
- Family Travel
Favorite thing: San Francisco is truly a city for architectural hounds. There are many areas filled with beautiful buildings or detailing that helps create the romantic image of San Francisco.
Fondest memory: Take in these buildings:
Painted Ladies ~ Take in the highest concentration of Painted Ladies in the city by wandering the area bordered by: Divisadero St., Golden Gate Avenue, Webster St, and Fell St. The most recognizable of these are the buldings at Alamo Square, made even more famous on the US tv series "Full House".
City Hall and the Civic Centre ~ Built in 1881, this whole complex is done in Beaux Arts Style. The dome on city hall rises to 308 feet; inside there is a breathtaking marble staircase.
The Castro Theatre ~ Located near Castro and Market Streets, this theatre was built in the 1920's to show silent pictures -- the box office is still located outside and yes, there is even an organ located at centre stage. To take in the interior, you generally must go to a movie, but trust me, it is truly gorgeous inside.
There are many walking tours you can take of these areas, just inquire at the tourist information centre.
For More Information:
San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau
900 Market Street
The Pacific Stock Exchange
Favorite thing: This building is located on Sansome Street near California. Established in 1882 as the San Francisco Stock and Bond exchange, it is actually the World's first exchange market in SF with the mission "To maintain a free and open market wherein the investor could convert his cash into securities and his securities into cash at will, at a fair and honest price.."
In 1957, it merged with the exchange market in Los Angeles to be known as the Pacific Stock Exchange.
Today, it is a lesser known market as Wall Street's "Dow Jones" is the market the world pays the most attention to.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
Great architecture against clear, blue skies.
Favorite thing: I love wandering around on 'urban hikes' through all the diverse neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has unique archictecture and ethnic cultures. If you love Italian food and culture there's North Beach. It's tiny streets are full of great bakeries and coffee houses, plus an abundance of great Italian cafes. The Mission has tons of great and cheap taco stands and lots of lively street people. Chinatown looks like another country and you can walk around finding great dim sum and noodle houses. Or just try and guess what all the strange looking foods are hanging in windows or being haggled over by the locals. Then there's Pacific Heights and Russian Hill with their beautiful Victorian mansions and streets with great shops and restaurants. Cow Hollow and the Marina are fun places to shop and grab food, too. Noe Valley is tucked away in the sunny part of the city and has lots of little book stores, cafes and shops as well. There's the Haight, with it's street kids, funky clothing and jewelry shops. The Richmond is sometimes called New Chinatown and has a rich Russian community as well. No matter which neighborhood you visit - you'll be seeing the real San Francisco and not just what the guide books sell you.
Fondest memory: When I'm away, I miss the local corner stores, the unique mom&pop shops and just being able to walk around my neighborhood in Pacific Heights and find just about any type of food I could want and everything else I need as well. No cars needed here!
- Arts and Culture
The Earl WarrenState of California office building
Favorite thing: The $246 million project features the renovation of the historic six-story Earl Warren Building at 350 McAllister Street, closed after the Loma Prieta earthquake; and the finished construction of the Hiram Johnson State Office Building which replaces the state office building at 455 Golden Gate Avenue. The complex will house more than 2,100 state employees from 11 agencies.
Favorite thing: San Francisco is famous for its old, Victorian homes. Unlike Vicorian Houses located in other cities, those in San Francisco are unique due to their size and shape. They are tall and narrow, living in cozy, closely set rows. And since almost every street in San Francisco is on a steep hill, the foundations of these houses may be as high as 8-10 feet at one end while being only a few feet tall on the other to insure that they are level. The houses are beautiful to look at and essential to the character of the city, but don't even think about buying one unless you are extremely wealthy. One of these houses can go for several million dollars, even in less than perfect condition.
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San Francisco Travel Guide
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