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Architecture Tour of North Beach, Jackson Square and Chinatown

Tour the gorgeous historic buildings of North Beach, Jackson Square and Chinatown to see the beginnings of San Francisco.

4 Columbus Ave.
Architecture

Fugazi Bank Building

01

Begin your day at Columbus Avenue and Montgomery Street where old faces new: the old Transamerica Building (4 Columbus), originally the Fugazi Bank Building designed by Charles Paff in 1907, faces the new Transamerica Building (600 Montgomery), designed by William Pereira & Associates in 1972.

4 Columbus Ave.
550 Montgomery St.
Architecture

Bank of Italy

02

Next is the former Bank of Italy building (550 Montgomery), designed in 1908 by Shea and Lofquist, with its ornate white marble interior. It was the home of A.P. Giannini and was the precursor to Bank of America.

550 Montgomery St.
804 Montgomery St.
Bookstore

William Stout Architectural Books

03

As you walk through the Jackson Square Historic District, stop at William Stout Architectural Books, a rare treat for architecture bibliophiles. William Stout Architectural Books carries more than 20,000 titles in the fields of architecture, art, urban planning, graphic and industrial design, furniture and interior design, and landscape architecture.

804 Montgomery St.
916 Kearny St.
Architecture

Columbus Tower

04

En route to North Beach, note the Columbus Tower, also known as the Sentinel Building. Designed in 1905 by Salfield & Kohlberg it is now owned by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. One of the building's earliest tenants was the restaurant, Caesar's, which is widely credited with the creation of the popular Caesar Salad.

916 Kearny St.
610 Vallejo St.
Church

St. Francis Church

05

Don’t miss the 1860 St. Francis Church. Parish leaders laid the cornerstone of the church on Oct. 2, 1859. The present Norman Gothic church, with its elegant twin campanile, was finally dedicated on March 17, 1860.

610 Vallejo St.
261 Columbus Ave.
Bookstore

City Lights

06

Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights, America’s first paperback bookstore, opened in 1953. City Lights is among the best independent bookstores in the U.S. Extensive and in-depth selection of poetry, fiction, translations, politics, history, philosophy, music and many more hard-to-find titles.

261 Columbus Ave.
920 Sacramento St.
Social Services

Donaldina Cameron House

07

Donaldina Cameron, a Presbyterian missionary in San Francisco's Chinatown, rescued more than 3,000 Chinese immigrant girls and women from indentured servitude. She was known as the "Angry Angel of Chinatown."  In 1942, the Presbyterian Home was renamed the Donaldina Cameron House, which serves as a multi-service agency serving Asian communities by promoting healthy Christian communities through programs like youth sports, tutoring, and counseling. Trivia: Cameron House was a location in the movies The Pursuit of Happyness and Sister Act.

920 Sacramento St.
726 Kearny St.
Landmark

Portsmouth Square

08

Portsmouth Square, nicknamed the "Heart of Chinatown," was the plaza of the Spanish colonial port town Yerba Buena, renamed San Francisco in 1847. Many historical events have happened at the square. The opening of the first public school and the announcement of the discovery of gold both occurred at Portsmouth Square.

726 Kearny St.

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