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Downtown Architecture Walk

Discover some of the best-kept architecture secrets of downtown San Francisco
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 0.5 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview:  This walking tour through the heart of downtown San Francisco provides an engaging mini-history class on the architecture of one of... more »

Tips:  Rick Evans, a local architecture expert, leads a guided tour every day at 11am. You can book the tour through his website,... more »

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Points of Interest

From the the lobby of the Galleria Park Hotel take the elevator or stairs to the third floor. When you arrive at the third floor make a left into the hall and exit the building through the first door on your left onto the sun deck.

When you exit the hotel you'll enter a hidden, green sun terrace with plenty of benches to quietly soak in the surrounding architecture.

This space is the first of several Privately Owned Public Open Spaces (POPOS) that you will encounter on this walk.

Downtown San Francisco has 68 POPS that were created under the requirements of the 1985... More

3. Hallidi building (150 Sutter St.)

The Hallidi building may not look like much at first sight, but it is one of the most, if not the most, historically significant buildings in San Francisco, and according to some even the world's most important building.

The Hallidi building's claim to fame is its transparent glass wall supported by a steel frame. This "glass curtain" wall... More

After observing the Hallidi building, enter the Crocker Galleria via a staircase located at the opposite side of the terrace from Galleria Park Hotel. The galleria has good shops and lots of food options. While crossing the bridge to the other side of the galleria, look toward your left to view the Hallidi building once more. Imagine seeing this... More

This sun terrace on top of the historic bank building at Montgomery and Post streets is the 2nd POPOS of this tour. This POPOS offers great views on Market Street and has plenty of benches that enable you to enjoy a sunny day.

To continue, enter the elevator down near the Montgomery Street side of the terrace, which will take you down to the... More

6. Wells Fargo banking hall

After exiting the elevator, make a left into Wells Fargo without exiting the building.

This Wells Fargo office offers a glimpse into the imperial grandeur of the past.

The rise of ATMs and online banking make most of the functions that were performed here obsolete.

7. 111 Sutter St.

To reach the lobby of 111 Sutter St., enter the hallway visible on your right when facing the center of Wells Fargo.

Look up to see the colorful painted ceiling that was restored in 2005.

Look down toward the marble floor to see (and feel with your foot) the footprint caused by millions of movements by the elevator captain.

8. Jaywalking!

Cross Sutter and Montgomery streets simultaneously by J-walking (diagonally crossing an intersection), an act that is allowed here, but usually considered a criminal offense.

9. City Group Center Greenhouse

This greenhouse is built into the shell of the 1912 London-Paris Bank building, with a glass roof and two-story arches opening to Sansome and Sutter streets. The material for the arches, the walls, the entrance steps and the floor is white marble with additional black marble bands and a round black polished marble fountain in the center. Palm... More

10. Garden surrounding 1 Bush St.

This is your fourth and final POPOS of the day. A beautifully designed and maintained urban garden surrounds the first postwar high-rise building, a "tower in a park." It features river rocks embedded in concrete, inlaid with a striking design of bands of gray slate. A fountain sculpture spouts and drips water. The planting consists of cherry,... More

11. Crown Zellerbach Paper Co. Building (1 Bush St.)

This is the first glass building built after the Great Depression and World War II, inspired by Mies van der Rohe's buildings in New York.

12. Shell Building (100 Bush St.)

The Shell building is a San Francisco landmark, designed by George W. Kelham. It was one of the tallest buildings in San Francisco when it was built in 1930. It was occupied by Royal Dutch Shell oil company until the 1960s and is still one of the city's distinguished business addresses.