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San Francisco's Top 10 : Historic Sites

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  1. Mission Dolores

    The 18th-century Spanish mission, site of the area’s earliest settlement, is worth a visit for its tranquility, as well as for the education it provides about the city’s early history .

  2. Jackson Square

    The area that witnessed the worst misbehavior of the Barbary Coast days contains some of the city’s oldest, loveliest buildings. One of the very few areas that were spared in the 1906 conflagration .

    Jackson Square
  3. Nob Hill

    Erstwhile site of the mansions of Golden Age moguls and potentates, from these lofty heights now rise the city’s most lavish hotels and the Gothic spires of one of its best-loved cathedrals .

    Fairmont Hotel, Nob Hill
  4. Fisherman’s Wharf

    Remnants of the early fishing industry that contributed to San Francisco’s growth are still found here, just layered over with a slick veneer of tourism. Fishing boats still come in and deliver their catch of the day, and nature makes its presence known with a colony of sea lions that lounge on the pier .

  5. War Memorial Opera House

    This building was inaugurated in 1932 with a performance of Puccini’s Tosca, giving the art form a permanent home here. Modeled on its European forbears, with a marble lobby, huge chandelier, balconies, and vaulted ceilings, it is dedicated to the memory of World War I soldiers. In 1945 the Opera House hosted the plenary sessions that preceded the founding of the United Nations and, in 1951, it was the site of the signing of the peace treaty between the US and Japan.

  6. North Beach

    The entire area resonates with the history of the early Italian residents, but even more with the iconoclastic legacy of the revolutionary Beats, who brought the neighborhood worldwide fame. Historic churches stand as clear landmarks, while equally historic saloons and cafés take a little snooping around to find .

  7. Haight-Ashbury

    The matrix of yet another Bohemian movement that San Francisco has given birth to, this area nurtured idealistic hippies in the late 1960s. They brought international awareness to alternative ways of life, living in harmony with nature and espousing humane values .

    Café sign, Haight-Ashbury

    Intersection, Haight-Ashbury
  8. Fillmore Auditorium

    One of the legendary homes of psychedelic rock during the 1960s. Along with the Avalon Ballroom and the Winterland (both now gone), this is where the San Francisco Sound found its first audience.

    • 1805 Geary Blvd

  9. City Hall

    On November 28, 1978, ex-Supervisor Dan White went to City Hall and assassinated Mayor George Moscone and gay Supervisor Harvey Milk. In a botched trial, he was convicted of manslaughter, sparking riots from the gay community .

    • 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

    City Hall
  10. Sutro Baths

    Built in 1896 by silver magnate Adolph Sutro, these were at one time the world’s largest heated swimming pools, overarched by a stunning glass roof. The complex was destroyed by fire in 1966, but you can access the ruins by steps at the Merrie Way parking lot.

Top 10 Historic Figures

  1. Junipero Serra

    This 18th-century Spanish cleric traveled up and down California establishing missions, including Mission Dolores.

  2. John C. Fremont

    Instrumental in the US annexation of California in the mid-1800s, it was Fremont who dubbed the Bay straits the “Golden Gate”.

  3. John Muir

    Muir was a keen promoter of the National Parks movement. The Muir Woods are named in his honor.

  4. Leland Stanford

    One of the “Big Four” who masterminded the Transcontinental railroad also founded Stanford University .

  5. Mark Hopkins

    Another of the “Big Four” who struck it super-rich and lived on Nob Hill.

  6. Charles Crocker

    Another “Big Four” accomplice. The Crocker Galleria recalls his legacy.

  7. A.P. Giannini

    Founder in 1904 of the Bank of Italy, later the Bank of America, Giannini financed the Golden Gate Bridge.

  8. Harvey Milk

    The first openly gay politician to become a member of the Board of Supervisors was assassinated in 1978.

  9. Dianne Feinstein

    One of the movers and shakers of San Francisco politics in recent decades, she became a US Senator in 1992.

  10. Jerry Brown

    Buddhist monk and mayor of Oakland, this intellectual free spirit ran for president.

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