Famous Architecture Walking Tour, San Francisco

Famous Architecture Walking Tour (Self Guided), San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the world's top travel destinations, being famous for spectacular tourist attractions like Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge. But besides that, this city also features a large variety of world-known architecture, like Transamerica Pyramid, Grace Cathedral and others. Take this walking tour to explore the most famous architectural buildings in San Francisco.
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Famous Architecture Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Famous Architecture Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » San Francisco (See other walking tours in San Francisco)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Flood Building
  • Phelan Building
  • Palace Hotel
  • Hobart Building
  • Hallidie Building
  • St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral
  • James C. Flood Mansion
  • Grace Cathedral
Flood Building

1) Flood Building

The Flood Building is a 12-story high-rise located in the downtown shopping district of San Francisco, completed in 1904 and designed by Albert Pissis. Situated next to the Powell Street cable car turntable, Hallidie Plaza and the Powell Street BART Station entrance, it is one of the few structures that survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The site formerly housed Baldwin's Hotel and Theatre, which was destroyed by fire in 1898. It was later purchased by James L. Flood, who constructed the building as a tribute to his father, James Clair Flood (1826-1889, the Comstock Lode millionaire).
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Phelan Building

2) Phelan Building

The Phelan Building is an 11-story office building located in the Financial District of San Francisco. It has a triangular shape reminiscent of the Flatiron Building in Manhattan, New York City, with its tip at the meeting point of Market Street, O’Farrell Street, and Grant Avenue. It is a San Francisco Designated Landmark.

The building was designed by William Curlett and built in 1908 by James D. Phelan on the place of the first, original Phelan Building, damaged by the 1906 earthquake and fire. It was once home to the George Haas and Sons Candy Store, marketed as the most beautiful candy shop in the country. The business also operated a tea room on the second floor.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Palace Hotel

3) Palace Hotel

The Palace Hotel is a landmark historic hotel in San Francisco. The hotel is also referred to as the "new" Palace Hotel to distinguish it from the original 1875 Palace Hotel, which had been demolished after being gutted by the fire caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The present structure opened on December 19, 1909, on the same site as its predecessor. The hotel was closed from January 1989 to April 1991 to undergo a two-year renovation and seismic retrofit. Occupying most of a city block, the hotel's now more than century-old nine-story main building stands immediately adjacent to both the BART Montgomery Street Station and the Monadnock Building, and across Market Street from Lotta's Fountain.

The Palace Hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Hobart Building

4) Hobart Building

The Hobart Building is an office high rise located in the financial district of San Francisco. It was completed in 1914 after only eleven months, which led to accusations that it had been constructed with a degree of recklessness. It was at the time the second tallest building in the city, at 21 floors and 87 m (285 ft). Said to be the favorite commercial building of its designer, Willis Polk, its sculpted terra cotta exterior with Baroque ornamentation and handcrafted brass and Italian marble interior are a noted example of neoclassical architecture.

Its unusual shape was dictated by the site, which is an asymmetric polygon, and since a neighboring structure was torn down in 1967, exposing one flank, it is now even more idiosyncratic and striking. The Hobart Building was designated as a landmark by the City of San Francisco in 1983.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Hallidie Building

5) Hallidie Building

The Hallidie Building is an office building in the Financial District of San Francisco, between Montgomery Street and Kearny Street. It was built around 1917-1918 and though credited as the first American building to feature glass curtain walls.

The building was designed by architect Willis Polk and is named in honor of San Francisco cable car pioneer Andrew Smith Hallidie. In 2011, the building went through a two-year restoration.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral

6) St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Located on the corner of Grant Avenue and California Street, the Old Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception has witnessed the progress of the city of San Francisco since its inception in 1854. Built to serve as the Cathedral for the city, this structure was once the tallest building in the city. Commissioned by the new Bishop, Joseph Alemany, the Cathedral was built from the donations given by John Sullivan, an Irish emigrant and the Christian and Jew communities of the area.

The area surrounding the Cathedral faced moral deterioration, with the rise of Chinese gangs and brothels. A sign under the clock face, to this date reminds men of taking the right path in life and not be attracted by evil. Though the Cathedral survived the earthquake of 1906, a fire that followed destroyed the church bells and the altar. The Cathedral was then renovated in 1909 after much debate. The fire had also destroyed the bars and brothels in the neighbourhood and the new settlers of the area took to Christianity. The Cathedral then underwent expansion by building three chapels and a 500 seat auditorium. During the Second World War, the Cathedral acted as a relief point for over 450,000 soldiers, where they could have a meal or celebrate a holiday away from home.
James C. Flood Mansion

7) James C. Flood Mansion

James Clair Flood, known as one of the ‘Bonanza Kings’ was famous for two buildings, Linden Towers in Menlo Park and James C. Flood Mansion in San Francisco. Although, Linden Towers was brought down in 1936, Flood Mansion stands as Pacific-Union Club today.

Born in New York, Flood came to California around the time gold was discovered in San Francisco. He started off a saloon, then a stock broking firm which went on to become the richest firm in America in less than 20 years of its inception. The firm then started a mining operations in Comstock Lode, the biggest silver mine in the world. The firm also set up the Bank of Nevada.

Flood then built this 42 room mansion in 1885, a couple of years before his death. The brownstone used in the construction was shipped around Cape Horn. The location of the mansion is the Nob Hill, which was the most opulent area at that time. However, the fire gutted this structure in 1906 although the building survived the earthquake. The Pacific-Union Club soon took over this building in 1907 and maintained the structure, whist using it as the headquarters for their operations. The structure has been unaltered ever since and was declared as a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Grace Cathedral

8) Grace Cathedral (must see)

Sitting atop the commanding height of Nob Hill, the Grace Cathedral is one of the biggest hunks of Neo-Gothic architecture in the U.S.

This church has been rebuilt at least three times since the Gold Rush. Its current Notre-Dame-inspired, reinforced-concrete structure took four decades to complete. The lengthy gestation period partly explains the certain hodge-podge aspects of the design. The faithful replicas of Ghiberti's famed bronze Florence Baptistery doors adorning the main entrance seem rather unexpected.

Inside, there are some clever effects with natural lighting, suggesting a traditional – and thus remarkably European – Gothic atmosphere (which gets particularly gorgeous on sunny evenings) with an uninterrupted view up to the high altar. As you go in, you will immediately encounter a second labyrinth (the first one is right near the entrance) whose patterns are capable of bringing wanderers to the state of meditation. Also of note are the works of Jan Henryk De Rosen, seen in the aisle, including an altarpiece in the Chapel of Grace and a mural in the Chapel of Nativity's Adoration.

Another welcome plus are the cute restrooms downstairs, a coffee bar, and a small souvenir shop. If you're looking for a peaceful respite in this otherwise "upscale desert" for tourists, enhanced with many works of art, this church is the place. Outside the Cathedral, there are arguably two most opulent and expensive hotels in San Francisco and a small park out front, affording an impressive panoramic view.

The temple is open Monday through Friday, from 7am to 6pm; Saturday, from 8am to 6pm; and Sunday, from 8am to 7pm.

If you choose to walk up the hill, getting here is a real climb, but the California Street Cable Car can always bring you up – no problem – should you wish to do so.

Walking Tours in San Francisco, California

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Union Square Walking Tour

Union Square Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
San Francisco Introduction Walking Tour

San Francisco Introduction Walking Tour

A commercial and cultural hub of northern California, San Francisco is a popular tourist destination known for its steep rolling hills and eclectic mix of world-famous landmarks. The iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the teeth-rattling cable cars carrying riders up and down Nob Hill, Alcatraz Island, and the oldest Chinatown in North America are just some of the city's prominent attractions, each...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 Km or 3.3 Miles
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Castro District Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Chinatown Walking Tour

Chinatown Walking Tour

The San Francisco Chinatown is home to one of the largest Chinese communities outside Asia. It is also renowned as a major tourist attraction in the city, drawing annually more visitors than the Golden Gate Bridge. Since its establishment, in 1848, this enclave has been instrumental in the preservation of the history, culture, language, religion, and identity of the ethnic Chinese in the United...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Fisherman's Wharf Walking Tour

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Regardless of whether it's a hot, sunny day, or one filled with San Francisco's iconic fog, a walk through Fisherman's Wharf can feel quite special. Sure, you'll be surrounded by tourists, but they're *happy* tourists, because they're enjoying the smells of good foods, the sounds of barking sea lions, and the sights of a legendary sea port, one where a few lovingly...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
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North Beach is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, known as San Francisco's Little Italy. This fun area features a great mix of architecture, museums, restaurants and old shops. Take this tour to explore the beauties that North Beach has to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles

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