Financial District, San Francisco
Since its completion in 1972 the Transamerica Pyramid, which can be seen from virtually everywhere in San Francisco, has become the new symbol of the city. It is situated north of the Wells Fargo Bank Building, in the middle of the financial quarter. Designed by the architect William Pereira of Los Angeles, it has 48 stories and reaches up 853ft/260m into the sky. It belongs to an insurance and finance company bearing the same name.Unlike conventional buildings, the pyramidal tower with its lattice-like cladding, is said to be particularly resistant to earthquake. The main building, square in section, is 150ft/45m wide at the bottom and 46ft/14m wide at the topmost floor. This section is surmounted by a 150ft/45m high hollow spire illuminated from within. The sides of the pyramidal spire are clad in aluminum sheeting.The lines of the tall spire are broken by the external lift-shafts (18 lifts) which run up the east and west sides of the building as far as the base of the spire.
The Embarcadero Center complex fully deserves its reputation as one of the most interesting and original examples of urban renewal. The eight buildings - five skyscrapers of between 32 and 34 storeys, the 20-storey Hyatt Regency Hotel, the Park Hyatt San Francisco Hotel and the completely renovated Federal Reserve Bank - are the work of John Portman, an architect from Atlanta.The first four skyscrapers, constructed between 1971 and 1982, are linked by pedestrian walkways providing access to more than 140 shops and restaurants. The fifth tower (Embarcadero Central West) was completed in 1988.Because San Francisco's weather is so mild, people spend a lot of time in the open air. Particularly at midday considerable crowds gather in the plazas set on different levels between the buildings. Sculptures by a number of well-known artists adorn several of these open spaces.
Opening hours: 10am-5pm
Transit: Bus: 2, 7, 8, 21, 31, 42, 55, 71, 72; MUNI station: Embarcadero.
Hyatt Regency Hotel
Although the architecture of the skyscrapers is conventional, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, opened in 1973, never ceases to provoke comment. The N side, almost triangular in outline, inclines at an angle of 45 degrees; the rooms enjoy a fine view out over the Bay.The hotel foyer is even more sensational: over 300ft/91m long it is 190ft/57m high, reaching up to the seventeenth story. Around it are grouped the restaurant, bars and shops. The centerpiece of this unique space is a four story-high sphere sculpted from gilded aluminum tubing by the American sculptor Charles Perry.
Jackson Square is actually the 400 block of Jackson Street and surrounding side streets. Many of the historic building have been preserved and it received an historic designation in 1972.
Wells Fargo History Museum
The Wells Fargo Bank building (main entrance in Montgomery Street), erected in 1959, is not itself of any great interest. But its museum is a rich source of information about the early history of California.One of the prize exhibits is a particularly fine example of a Concord coach, the name being taken from the town of Concord in New Hampshire where coaches of this type were built. When the Wells Fargo Express Co. was founded in San Francisco in 1852 by Henry Wells from Vermont and William Fargo from New York, Concord coaches were used to transport passengers and freight, especially gold. There are relics of the Gold Rush and exhibitions recalling the hard life of the "Forty-Niners".A special display is devoted to Black Bart. Over a period of just eight years, from about 1877 to 1885, he ambushed single-handed 28 coaches. He would frequently leave comic verses at the scene of the crime in which he claimed to be a sort of Robin Hood robbing the rich to give to the poor.There is a comprehensive library open to anybody who is interested.
Address: 420 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94163, United States
Opening hours: 9am-5pm; Closed: Sun, Sat
Entrance fee: FREE
Guides: Guided tour included with admission.
Facilities: Gift shop
Wells Fargo Museum - Concord Coach
In the Wells Fargo History Museum in San Francisco there is a particularly fine example of a Concord coach, in which the Wells Fargo Express Co., founded in 1852, transported passengers and freight, especially gold. A special display is devoted to Black Bart who between 1877 and 1885 ambushed 28 coaches on his own. He often left comic verses at the scene, claiming to be a "Robin Hood" figure.
Bank of America
This skyscraper, belonging to the world's largest private bank (with capital of about $30 billion), is 52 storeys high and rises 760ft/232m. Together with the Transamerica Pyramid it has radically altered San Francisco's townscape. Two eminent firms of architects, Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with Pietro Belluschi as consultant, designed the building in 1969. The material used is reddish South Dakota granite.The complex comprises a lofty tower with offices, a low banking hall, and an open piazza with a sculpture by Masayuki Nagare, beneath which is an auditorium. In all 7,500 persons work in the building. Visitors and employees are carried to the top of the tower by 32 lifts.Located on the uppermost story, commanding a magnificent view, is the Carnelian Room.
California Historical Society
In October 1993 the California Historical Society purchased 678 Mission Street, the former San Francisco Builders Exchange and a former hardware store, in the newly developed Yerba Buena Gardens neighborhood. The building was renovated for seismic safety and the basement, which extends underneath the Mission Street sidewalk, was converted into a climate-controlled storage vault for the Society's collections. The current CHS headquarters accommodates the administrative offices, North Baker Research Library, exhibition galleries, and museum store.
Pacific Stock Exchange (closed)
Founded in 1873, the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco now occupies buildings designed by the architects Miller and Pflueger and erected in 1930. The exuberant decoration bears witness to the date of construction. The sculptures are by Ralph Stackpole.During trading hours it is possible to go into the gallery and watch at close quarters the hectic activity of the stockbrokers. However, intending visitors are required to have a recommendation from a San Francisco stockbroking firm.ATTRACTION IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED.
Justin Herman Plaza
This small park in front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel was created in the course of developing the Embarcadero Center. It is popular with office workers from the nearby skyscrapers, who gather here during the midday break to eat their lunches and be entertained by assorted musicians and street actors.A notable feature of the park is the Vaillancourt Fountain, constructed by the Canadian sculptor Armand Vaillancourt out of colossal concrete blocks on which it is possible to clamber.
Bank Exchange Saloon
The Bank Exchange Saloon stands on a site formerly occupied by the Montgomery Block, demolished in 1959. When erected 106 years earlier it was the first major building complex in San Francisco.
The Rincon Center in San Francisco is a shopping center with restaurants featuring cuisine from all over the world: Mediterranean, Indian, Italian, Thai, Chinese, and Korean.
Map of San Francisco Attractions