Churches, San Francisco
The columns and entrance to this Greek revival structure is worth the panoramic shot I took on a walk from the Clement Street District on through to Golden Gate Park, by way of Presidio Park Blvd (otherwise known as US Hwy 1). In my brief internet search, I couldn't determine the origins of this magnificent white structure, or even if it was originally built for the Christian Science faith, but below are contract info for those interested. It's located at the corner of Clement and Funston-- 300 Funston Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118
The original Spanish chapel at the Presidio of San Francisco was built of wood in 1776. After the US Army took over the Presidio, they constructed a new wooden chapel near the same site in 1864, during the peak of the US Civil War. Constructed in Spanish mission revival style, the modern Presidio Chapel was constructed by the Army in 1931. The chapel boasts a 103-year-old Philadelphia-cast fine bronze bell and a mural completed in 1935. Next to the chapel lies a large log of 800 year old Alaskan cedar that is being carved into an Interfaith Healing Pole, better known as a totem pole. The Presidio Chapel is now owned by the National Park service and operated by the Presidio Interfaith Center, an organization comprised of 22 local religious organizations of various faiths.
Next to the Presidio Chapel is the San Francisco National Cemetery. Laid to rest here are 30,000 Americans including Civil War generals, Medal of Honor recipients, and Buffalo Soldiers. The first burial at this cemetery was in 1854 making this the oldest US cemetery west of the Mississippi. The 28.34 acre cemetery is closed to new burials except those who have previously reserved lots.
Even more unique is the Presidio Pet Cemetery linked here: http://www.honan.net/PetCem/
Within the North Beach area, the Church of Peter and Paul right on Washington Square is beyond fame, as it has appeared in movies, and was where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were famously photographed after their wedding at City Hall. But, even more historic is the smaller St. Francis of Assisi Shrine at the Corner of Columbus and Vallejo Streets, nearly across from the venerable Trieste Cafe coffee house. This was the first non-Spanish language parish church in California, founded in 1849, more than a decade before the Italians began to immigrate into North Beach. The basic structure including the towers actually predates the 1906 earthquake, having been dedicated in 1860, although extensive restoration work with steel reinforcement was completed in 1918. See the 2nd link below for a great image of the church standing amid the ruins of North Beach in 1906. The image here was taken during a cup of espresso at Trieste Cafe
Grace Cathedral was begun in 1928 and not completed until 1964. This massive church at the peak of Nob Hill is the third largest Episcopal cathedral in the United States. Grace Cathedral features beautiful stained glass, two labyrinths, and impressively detailed brass doors known as the "Gates of Paradise." Inside the church you will find a variety of unique features such as the multi-faith AIDS chapel and a mural depicting the United Nations.
The cathedral is free to visit, but a donation is requested. There is parking in the cathedral's garage and you will also find a gift shop and Peet's Coffee Shop.
The complete name for this church on Geary Blvd is Russian Holy Virgin Cathedral of the Church in Exile, and this is the west coast spiritual center for those of the Russian Orthodox faith. There's also a Russian High School as part of the complex. Found on the right side of Geary on the way out to Cliff House and Sutro Baths (see my tips on these), the dramatic gold onion dome and frescoed icons of the apostles can't be missed even on a quick a drive by. The interior is equally fantastic and worth a closer look. Unfortunately, I don't have images of the interior, but the web link below does, and explains a little more about the church functions. It's located at 6210 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121
At 7am every morning, Grace Cathedral opens its elegant doors. In it you'll find a labyrinth based on a very old (13th century?) labyrinth in a French church.
There is also a labyrinth outside.
Labyrinths are NOT mazes. There is one route into the center; the same route out.
Walking a labyrinth is an act of meditation, perhaps even prayer. It is a wonderful thing to do whatever your spiritual leanings.
The Cathedral is on the corner of Taylor and California. If you go early in the morning, you can see elderly folks doing Tai Chi across the street in a park.
If you find yourself in the city on a Sunday morning, take time out to refresh yourself mentally as well as physically...go to Glide...Glide Methodist Church that is. If you like great gospel music, if you like leaving with an uplifted feeling......go to Glide. If you like to hear about the many many great works being done by the members of this congregation located at the edge of Union Square and the Tenderloin.......go to Glide.
A good friend of mine recommended Glide Church to me several years ago and I have gone on Sunday mornings when I am in the city every since. I have taken active Christians, athiests, Buddists, among others. They all have enjoyed the positive and uplifting experience of the Glide Church.
Glide "Celebrations" start at 9:00AM and 11:00 AM on Sunday mornings. I go to the early service which is easier to get into without waiting a long time like for the 11:00 service. Either way, get there at least 30 mintues early. The church is not fancy and the people are real. You may be sitting next to Sharon Stone or a homeless person.
Glide church has a huge ministry in San Francisco to the homeless and downtrodden. They serve over 1 million meals to the homeless a year. Great stories are told of those who have come to Glide and have turned their lives around.
Let's just say that even if you don't call yourself "religious" you will enjoy this very unique experience. Go and be lifted up and leave knowing that you can do great things for people in need.
To reach Glide, corner of Taylor and Ellis, you can take the cable car down to the turnaround in Union Square and walk two blocks over. You can also take a quick cab down and then continue your day in Union Square or taking the cable car back to the Wharf etc. Do be careful if you walk past the area of the church into the Tenderloin neighborhood. In fact I don't recommend walking through the Tenderloin neighborhood at all. Walking from the Cable Car turnaround is perfectly safe. The #27 Muni bus also stops directly in front of the church.
Sitting on the top of Nob Hill is Grace Cathedral, a beautiful French Gothic style Episcopal church. The original church on this site was much smaller and was built during the Gold Rush era in 1849. It was destroyed in the fire following the 1906 earthquake.
The present cathedral was built on the same site and completed in 1964. Inside are beautiful murals depicting the history of the Anglican church, as well as California history.
The church is open to the public during the day.
San Francisco is a melting pot of many different cultures which have become part of the city over the last 150 years. One example is the large population of Serbs that have immigrated to San Francisco.
The St. John Serbian Orthodox Church is located in the Western Addition area of the city. The church was designed in the Byzantine style that is the trademark of many Serbian Orthodox churches in Serbia and Montenegro. I'm kind of partial to this church because I got married here.
This lovely church is truly holy ground. The silence and coolness of the interior will take you a world away from your busy life. What a delightful break in a busy sightseeing day!
Located on Filbert street off Washington Square.
The Church of John Coltrane is a small community church dedicated to spreading the gospel by virtue of the music of John Coltrane.
You think i'm kidding?? I'm not.
If you're in town on a Sunday, be sure to walk by the place and take some time to listen to the services. This is a San Francisco treasure to be sure.
If you're using an old guidebook, please be aware that the church was evicted from its home of 30-yrs and is now located at 930 Gough St.
Just in front of Grace Cathedral, the Nob Hill's Masonic center honors Freemasons who died in American wars...