Union Square San Francisco Walking Tour

This walking tour includes historic buildings, hotels, retail outlets, and landmarks surrounding San Francisco's most famous public square. Part of the city's original 1847 urban design plan, this square earned its name little over a decade later when numeorus pro-Union demonstrations and rallies were held at the square as the nation headed to war.

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Four Fifty Sutter Building
Offices used by dentists and doctors are usually relatively bland and nondescript. That is not the case with Four Fifty Sutter, a remarkable Art Deco structure built specifically to house dentist offices. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
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St. Francis Hotel
Few hotels can boast the storied history of the St. Francis. Built in 1904, the hotel survived the 1906 earthquake, has hosted numerous celebrities and other luminaries, and has seen more than a few scandals over its long career.
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Dewey Monument, Union Square
San Francisco was a major naval port and point of departure for American sailors on their way to the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. In honor of these men, the city decided to redesign the center of Union Square and build a monument to commemorate Admiral Dewey's victory over the Spanish fleet at Manila during that war. The monument features a 79-foot tall granite shaft topped by a pedestal and a bronzed figure of a woman representing both liberty and victory. The woman holds a trident and a laurel wreath, symbolizing both naval strength and victory. President Roosevelt traveled to San Francisco and dedicated the monument on May, 14, 1903.
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City of Paris Department Store, 1850-1972
Established in 1850 as a mercantile business, the City of Paris was San Francisco's oldest department store before its closure in the early 1970s. The local chain's headquarters and the signature store was established at this location in 1896, one of the original upscale Union Square department stores that replaced the previous residential area. The building survived the earthquake and fire of 1906, while the building weathered the Great Depression. However, the store fell victim to the nationwide trend of local department store closures and announced their departure in 1971. Despite several attempts to save the historic building, including a case heard before the California Supreme Court, the building was demolished in 1981 to create room for the current Neiman Marcus department store. As a result of the preservation fight, Neiman Marcus agreed to save the old department store's glass dome and incorporate the City of Paris' signature rotunda into their building.
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V.C. Morris Building
Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the interior of the V.C. Morris Building in 1948. Wright's only San Francisco project, the store interior is most significant for its circular ramp which became Wright's prototype for the famous circular staircase within the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The exterior is relatively simple in its geometry, but the interior was revolutionary at the time with its curving ramp leading from the ground floor to a circular mezzanine. The extensive remodel of the store interior is interesting because V. C. Morris did not own the building and his store, which sold silverware and wedding gifts could not have justified the expense of the project. The building was restored in 1998 and operated as an art gallery. Once again, the considerable expense dedicated to the interior of the building cost far more than could be recovered and the art gallery eventually closed. As of the spring of 2017, the building is vacant but the building has been purchased by an international men's clothing line as their first West Coast retail outlet.
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Phelan Building
Built by James Phelan in 1907 to replace the previous flatiron building that stood in this location for 25 years until the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the Phelan building is one of San Francisco's leading architectural landmarks.
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Lotta's Fountain
"The closest thing to ground zero" after the 1906 earthquake was Lotta's Fountain, at the intersection of Kearny, Geary, and Market Streets. The fountain was gifted to the city by Lotta Crabtree, a Vaudeville actress. It was originally situated at Third, Market and Kearny, but was relocated a short distance to its present location during the 1974 Market Street renovation. After a devastating earthquake struck San Fransisco in 1906, survivors used the fountain as a meeting point to find lost loved ones and work. Today, the fountain is one of the oldest remaining monuments in the city and is a reminder of San Francisco's rich and diverse history.
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Palace Hotel and Garden Court Room
The Palace Hotel and Garden Court Room has occupied the space on the corner of Market and New Montgomery Streets since 1875. The original Palace Hotel was destroyed during the 1906 earthquake although it was eventually rebuilt in 1909. In addition to hosting numerous celebrities over its long career, the Palace is also famous for being the site of President Warren Harding's death.
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The Montgomery
The Montgomery, which stands on a corner, features two nearly identical facades. Designed by the Reid Brothers and completed in 1914, the building was the headquarters of one of San Francisco's leading newspapers, the San Francisco Call (published under various names from 1856-1965). After an interior redesign, the building has been converted into condominiums.

This tour was created by Clio Admin on 05/21/17 .

This tour has been taken 1675 times within the past year.

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