Cathedral Hill, San Francisco
The Cathedral Hill area in San Francisco is the home of Japan Center and St Mary's Cathedral.
St Mary's Cathedral
St Mary's Cathedral, the third to bear this name, is by far the most impressive of San Francisco's churches, and well worth seeing.Consecrated in 1971, it replaced the second St Mary's Cathedral, on Van Ness Avenue, which burned down in 1962. Erected on a site formerly occupied by a supermarket, the cathedral can seat a congregation of 2,500.The building was designed by local architects Angus McSweeney, Paul A. Ryan and John M. Lee in association with Pietro Belluschi of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston (Mass.) and Pier Luigi Nervi of Rome. It has a pillar-less nave and a 195ft/60m-high dome at the apex of which four narrow stained glass windows converge like great translucent pathways to form a multi-colored cross. The windows symbolize the four elements, air (north), earth (south), fire (west) and water (east).The altar, at which the priest faces the congregation, is surrounded on three sides by seats. Above it hangs a cross and a shimmering baldachino made from 7,000 aluminum rods perpetually in motion. The organ, built in Padua by the Ruffati brothers, is raised on a plinth, creating the effect of a piece of sculpture.The cathedral's openness towards the outside world is symbolized by great glass windows through which church and city seem to merge. The view to the south-west, with San Francisco's second highest hill, Twin Peaks, in the center, is particularly impressive.A school with three courtyards, a large auditorium and a council chamber form part of the cathedral complex.
Address: 1111 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA 94109-6686, United States
Useful tips: Photography not allowed during services. Tours: from April through October, Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, and Sunday after the 11:00 a.m. Mass.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Facilities: Gift shop
Transit: Bus: 2, 3, 4, 38.
Japan Center (Japantown)
San Francisco's Japantown district is the cultural and business center for the city's Japanese community, the first of whom arrived in San Francisco, the city they called Soko, over 120 years ago. It was only after the 1906 earthquake, however, that they started to settle in this particular area, Japantown or Nihonmachi as it is known in Japanese.During the Second World War most of San Francisco's Japanese and Japanese-Americans ("Nisei") were interned. On their release many of the former went back to Japan; the others gradually returned to pick up the threads of their lives in the district they had left. Today there are more than 12,000 Japanese resident in San Francisco.The opening of the Japan Center in 1968 was a great boost to the district. Now there are Japanese hotels, numerous Japanese and Korean restaurants, about 40 shops and a theater. In addition to the Japanese Peace Pagoda, the principal sight of the district, the temple, shrines, art exhibitions and many shops make for a visit filled with interest.The springtime Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival; see Practical Information, Events) is held in Peace Plaza with its five-storied Peace Pagoda. Entry is via a gate ("romon") designed by Yoshiro Taniguchi.
Address: 1737 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94115-3628, United States
Opening hours: 8am-11pm
Transit: Bus: 2, 3, 4, 22, 38.
Cathedral Hill Pictures
Map of San Francisco Attractions