well the cheesecake factory atop the eight floor of Macy's west is a things to do tip also, why? because it offers panoramic view of the whole union square area and you will see the skyline of St. Francis Hotel, transamerica buidling, maiden lane, the square itself, the cable cars along powell street, the tunnel near sutter-stockton garage and others plus you will indulge in their wonderful and varied menus while enjoying the view and the ambiance but don't forget to order the cheescake which is their specialty! so why don't you go and enjoy the view here while eating a prime rib and enjoying the basic cheesecake! it is also a romantic place at night as my night pictures will show.
Mon-Thu. 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat. 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.
Sun. 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Union Square is a plaza dedicated to SF's first American Mayor, John Geary. The name of the square is due to its pro-union rallies during the US Civil War.
This area is very popular with restaurants, hotels, shopping and theatres.
Most of the visitors stay in a hotel near Union Square so you will walk around here sooner or later. It’s the touristic center and also the epicenter of a larger shopping area with many famous upscale stores located around the square, some famous malls like Macy’s (facing the square, it’s the biggest department store on the east coast) but also some five stars hotels. We didn’t do any shopping here because we had to protect our wallets and credit cards from the outrageous prices but we enjoyed a coffee at Maiden Lane (pic 5), a small side street with some cafes, restaurants and art galleries. During the Gold Rush era it was just a home for prostitutes though! Don’t get confused because of the name. It was given to the street after the big earthquake (the former name was Morton street). The square also houses the TIX booth, the ideal place to buy half price tickets for plays and shows. As the area is full of tourists no surprise the big number of beggars around.
The history of the square goes back to 1849 when the first mayor of the city created this public square. The name came from the protests that took place around here for the Union of USA during the civil war. In the center of the square the Dewey Monument goes up to 30m (pics 1-2). It was built in 1903 to celebrate the victory of George Dewey against the Spanish navy in Manilla bay (1898)
Since we were staying in the Union Square area, our 1st day we had a walk through the area to see the few things that our guidebook said were must sees, we weren't interested in any of the high end shopping but we did stop to see some of the architectural sights along the way. Someone likened Union Square to Chicago's Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue) but they didn't strike me as being similar at all, I didn't see anywhere near the volume of people in Union Square that you see on Chicago's main shopping stretch, perhaps we were a bit early for the "ladies who lunch" as we were there around 10 am.
Picture 1-140 Maiden Lane is the only Frank Lloyd Wright building in San Francisco, it now houses an art gallery, the interior curving ramp is said to be the model for the Guggenheim in NYC.
Picture 2-Lotta's Fountain, named for gold rush era performer Lotta Crabtree who was showered with gold and silver after she performed, she gave the city this fountain in 1875, at the intersection of 3rd, Market, Kearny and Geary Sts.
Picture 3-Halladie Building, named for cable car inventor William Halladie, notable for the glass curtain exterior wall, located at 130 Sutter Street between Kearny and Montgomery
Picture 4-Union Square, a nice open air spot with a cafe and on the day we were there, an art fair
The Union Square area is mostly known as San Francisco's shopping district. All the big department stores can be found on the streets that border the Union Square Plaza, along with some upscale boutiques and plenty of more affordable stores. Many of the city's most popular hotels are also located around Union Square, mostly thanks to its central location and easy access to public transportation. Union Square itself, a lively plaza at the center of which stands the Victory monument, is a fun place to hang out. We once stopped for lunch at the Emporio Rulli Caffe (http://www.rulli.com/il_caffe.php), located right on the Square. We enjoyed a nice salad and a good glass of wine on their outdoor terrace and had fun watching people walk around with their arms full of shopping bags! I too did my very best to do the whole shopping thing one evening. I even found a store - Forever 21 - that I really liked, but I quickly realized that it's a bit difficult for someone of my height and size to shop in the US, nothing fits! Thank goodness there was a Ghirardelli Chocolate store and a huge Borders bookstore to save the day - in the end I came back to our hotel with plenty of chocolate squares and four new novels :o)
San Francisco is one of the most visited cities in the world, well-known for its liberal community, hilly terrain, Victorian architecture, scenic beauty, summer fog, and great ethnic and cultural diversity. Living in San Francisco makes it somewhat challenging to organize a 1-day itinerary. There are simply so many places to see! For the first installation of 1-day San Francisco, I will focus on the areas around downtown.
Union Square is San Francisco's main shopping and cultural area. This neighborhood is named after the park called Union Square that was created in 1850. The area contains numerous theaters, art galleries, luxury hotels, and the end of the Mason and Hyde Street cable car line. I like the area's variety of restaurants and nightlife including areas such as the Little French Quarter and the numerous top-floor restaurants and lounges of the area. I was surprised to see that Union Square is the city's fourth most frequented tourist destination after Fishermans Wharf, Chinatown, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Union Square itself is bordered by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets, and was a popular place for pro-Union rallies prior to the Civil War. The area was decimated by the 1906 earthquake then rebuilt to the general size and shape you see today. The park was again reconstructed in the 1940s when a parking garage was built under the square and the park replaced at ground level on the garage's roof. In 2000 the park was again modernized with repairs made to the garage, and the park resurfaced mostly with stone and concrete rather than grass.
Union Square is a pedestrian plaza in the heart of downtown San Francisco. The paved square is a block in size and is home to public events such as concerts, art shows and protests. In the middle of the square there is a 30m tall monument to Admiral George Dewey.
Union Square also refers to the surrounding area which is a mecca for shopping, hotels, theatre and dining. Macy's flagship store can be found on Union Square, and if you go to the top floor of the department store you can get a good view over the square.
I was surprised by Union Square - I was expecting it to be larger and grubbier. When we visited there was an interesting art show in progress, and plenty of people sitting about drinking coffee, reading and people watching.
Where can you find a Statue Comemorating the Exploits of Admiral George Dewey in the Battle of Manila Bay (and Sadly the US-Philippine war, the first Iraq, due to Theodore Roosevelt's Manifest Destiny of "Christianising" Filipinos who were already Christians and Catholics since the 1500's! way before the North Americans). The answer is in Union Square in Downtown. Union Square was built and dedicated by San Francisco's first American mayor John Geary in 1850 and is so named for the pro-Union rallies that happened there before and during the United States Civil War and later became a memorial to the Spanish American War.
Presently this is the center of Luxury Shopping in the West Coast where you can find all the prestigous brands. Inside Union Square itself in an underground parking, A See's Candy Shop, Emporio Rulli Coffeeshop, Free Concerts and TIX Half-Price Theater Tickets.
Where Can You Find A Macy's, Sak's Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus Stores so near each other? Where can you find a Statue Comemorating the Exploits of Admiral George Dewey in the Battle of Manila Bay (and Sadly the US-Philippine war, the first Iraq, due to Theodore Roosevelt's Manifest Destiny of "Christianising" Filipinos who were already Christians and Catholics since the 1500's!). The answer is in Union Square in Downtown. Union Square was built and dedicated by San Francisco's first American mayor John Geary in 1850 and is so named for the pro-Union rallies that happened there before and during the United States Civil War and later became a memorial to the Spanish American War and presently is one of the largest collection of department stores, upscale boutiques, tourist trinket shops, art galleries, and salons in the Western United States.
Union Square is actually one of my least favorite plazas in town, in part because it is almost fully paved concrete ambiance, but also because of the centerpiece Dewey Memorial, which celebrates the victory of the USA over the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay. The 1896 war, which eventuated in the annexation of Cuba and the Philippines as American territory was a blantant opportunist imperialist act that resulted in many decades of turmoil in these two nations, which argueably have yet to recover their proper nationalism and liberty. Indeed the Iraq War has been compared to the Spanish-American War. However, the 95-foot high statue, designed in 1901 by sculptor Robert Aitken, and architect, Newton Tharp, also capped a period of pride in San Francisco just prior to the great earthquake and fire of 1906. Alma Spreckels, later the lovely wife of sugar baron Adolph Spreckels, was the nude model for the figure, which Aitken used to symbolize "the Republic, dignified and graceful, on a pedestal of granite. In her outstretched hand he placed a palm, denoting work well done, a tribute to the memory of the beloved president. In her other hand he gave her a trident, the three-pronged fork which was the scepter of King Neptune, king of the sea (see link below)." Thus, the memorial is both a tribute to victory in war and recently martyred President McKinley. Alma had sprung from humble beginnings and later married into the Spreckels wealth, so the statue, which survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, as well as several reconstructions of Union Square, came to symbolize more than the men whose names are on the memorial base. This memorial came to symbolize for San Francisco a determination to rise from ashes and return to a great city of wealth and splendor.
The best part of Union isn't the shops or the fact it's a beautiful place to relax, but rather the heavy European influence that make up the square. Much like the many different squares in Rome, Union Square is a place of tranquility amidst the bustling city. However Union Square had a much more modern look as its surrounded by towering skyscrapers and palm tree's. There are a couple cafe's in the square with plenty of outdoor tables to enjoy coffee and a view. From a people watching perspective its about the best spot in the city, of course if you prefer shopping you are in luck as Macy's, Nike Town, and Sak's 5th Ave are among the many different stores that surround the square. Definitely plan on making Union Square a staple of your visit to San Francisco!
Just off Union Square, at 345 Stockton Street in the plaza of the Grand Hyatt Hotel is a very curious bronze fountain that exhibits a seemingly chaotic mixture of San Francisco elements. This is one of several Ruth Asawa fountains in town, actually. The molds for this bronze sculpture were created from 41 separate panels that Asawa had made from baker's clay. Inviting children and friends to help, she includes in this fountains many of the geographic and unreal elements that make up San Francisco. Asawa was a very proflic contributor of art in the Bay Area and a professor of art at UC Berkeley. The link below describes more about her life.
I consider Union Square as the 'center of downtown' - at least for touristic purposes.
A number of well-known hotels are cramped into the area and you will find, somewhat unfortunately, a lot of touristy bars and restaurants.
What to see & do:
Shop. The Macy's flagship store is located right on Union Square, and so is Neimann Marcus. Along Post street you will find fine boutiques like Burberry and Prada.
Other well-known shops include Borders (Books), the Disney store and Niketown.
Eat. Walk west towards Jones and there are lots of ethnic restaurants on Geary and Post. Some of my favourites include Borobudur (Indonesian on Post & Jones) and Katana-Ya (Ramen house on Geary & Taylor). The famous Lori's diner also has a couple of branches here, although it's not my favourite spot to eat. Other good & famous restaurants that I have or haven't tried in the area include Farallon (Seafood on Post), Michael Mina (American at Westin St Francis Hotel) and Postrio by Wolfgang Puck (Prescott Hotel on Post).
Drink. The rather famous Redwood room at Clift Hotel is 5 minutes walk on Geary and Taylor. Also there's a lively Irish bar called Johnny Foley's on Mason & O'Farrell.
Sightsee. The Westin St. Francis hotel has those famous elevators that runs outside of the building. The gigantic Christmas tree is put up during Thanksgiving time, and the "Heart" of Tony Bennet (from the song).
Give money to charity. What? Yeah, there's a bunch of homeless people asking for spare change.
This is a good place to read a book, hang out with friends or family, or mingle with either the tourists or the native San Franciscans.
For singles it could be an ideal place to meet someone (better than a bar).