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14 of San Francisco’s iconic buildings

14 San Francisco's iconic buildings

Do you love architecture, or seeing buildings from your favourite film scenes? San Francisco is chock full of these as many productions had shot scenes in and around the neighbourhood. This post presents 14 of San Francisco’s iconic buildings.

Whether you are planning a visit San Francisco, or if you live here, this list is for you.  As a matter of fact, in our research to develop a Tourist Scavenger Hunt in San Francisco, we’ve come across much information, some of which can only be gleaned when doing the actual scavenger hunt.

However, we also wanted to share some of that information with you for your visit planning. Here 14 of San Francisco’s iconic buildings.

14 Historical and Iconic buildings to see in San Francisco

  1. The Castro Theatre
    • The Castro Theatre, designed by Timothy Pflueger, represents early Spanish Colonial style. In like manner, it evokes a Mexican cathedral. Equally impressive, the ceilings in this cinema house are breathtaking. The Castro neighbourhood rests west of the Mission District.
  2. Coit TowerCoit Tower
    • Lillie Hitchcock Coit donated to the city the necessary funds to build this art deco tower in 1924. Construction completed later in 1933 and the observation deck at the top opened for visitors. From the top, a full 360 view of the city and the bay is available and breathtaking. The elevator ride is 7$ (or so).
    • Further, there is a Christopher Columbus statue in the parking below, in Pioneer Park. The city’s Italian-American community donated it back in 1957.
  3. de Young Museum
    • The de Young Museum stands within Golden Gate Park, across the music concourse from the California Academy of Sciences. It showcases American art from the 17th,  18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. These include modern and contemporary art, photography, textiles and consumes.
    • Admittance starts at $6.
  4. Ferry Building Marketplace
    • This food mecca rivals Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Constructed in 1898 overtop an original wooden 1875 Ferry House, it hosts regular farmer’s market and local artisans. Moreover, many unique shops and restaurants line its halls.
  5. Grace Cathedral
    • Grace Cathedral, on Nob Hill, took inspiration from Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. However, it is very different from Notre Dame where the glasswork and exterior stonework is concerned. It stands next to a Freemason Grand Lodge.
  6. Maritime MuseumMaritime Museum
    • The Maritime Museum appropriate stands in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building. Correspondingly, the structure looks like an old white ocean liner. In the centre of the park, this art deco structure sits across the street from Ghirardelli Square.
    • Here you will find 35,000 items on display about the local maritime tradition around San Francisco.
  7. Mission Dolores
    • Mission Dolores incredibly is the oldest, still-standing, structure in San Francisco, having survived the 1906 earthquake. Founded back in 1776 in order to bring Spanish settlers to the area. Henceforth, it ministered to the local Native Americans.
  8. painted ladiesPainted Lady Victorians
    • The world-famous Painted Ladies stand in the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood. They look to the west at Almo Square. These Victorian homes, seen in so many films and postcards, are a beautiful sight indeed.
  9. Palace of Fine Arts
    • The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco is the last remaining structure built for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. This pink and beige stone building with arcade sits next to a pond. It is near the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on the north side of San Francisco.
    • In light of its history and architecture, it now figures prominently on the National Register of Historic Places.
  10. San Francisco City Hall
    • SF City Hall stands in the Civic Center district next to War Memorial Opera House and Asian Art Museum. It was build in Beaux-Arts style and could easily pass as the Capitol of California – however, that is in Sacramento.
  11. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
    • SFMOMA intended to be the 1st modern art museum on the west coast of the United States. Since 1935 when construction completed, renovations were undertaken across its 10 floors. It reopened eventually in 2016. As a result of this renovation, it now looks like a giant white meringue. Snohetta designed SFMOMA.
  1. Mary’s Cathedral
    • Mary’s Cathedral is a very modern looking church with distinct architectural lines. As an illustration, some describe it as a Maytag washing machine agitator. In contrast, others ascribe it to a part of the female anatomy. You must see it for yourself in order to make up your own mind about it. Mary’s Cathedral stands between Japantown and Laguna Heights.
  2. The Sentinel
    • The Sentinel is a flatiron building in the Financial District owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola. In fact, this is where he maintains his office. Construction completed back in 1907 on this distinctive flatiron. To demonstrate its distinctiveness, copper graces most of its exterior surfaces.
  3. Transamerica PyramidTransamerica Pyramid
    • The Transamerica Pyramid opened in 1972. It keeps its name despite the corporation no longer occupying it. The Transamerica Pyramid, together with the Golden Gate Bridge, are likely the 2 most iconic visual markers of San Francisco.

In summary, we invite you to try our San Francisco Tourist Scavenger Hunt. All in all, it is a 2-hour self-guided walking tour throughout the heart of San Francisco. Also, you’ll complete challenges and discover your next destinations directly on your mobile phone (how it works).  In short, it costs $30 for your group but is currently free. Moreover, you will enjoy seeing San Francisco’s iconic buildings while learning about San Francisco’s history.

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