Views of San Francisco

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August 26, 2014
San Francisco views are open to everyone

Photo Vantage Points

San Francisco’s best angle is often through a single lens reflex camera or a digital viewfinder. Photogenic with startling contrasts of new and old, land and sea, the City has been a popular subject even from the early days when English-born photographer Eadweard Muybridge captured some of her famous curves and inclines.

Here’s a quick tour of these fabled hills with suggested camera angles:


  • Yerba Buena/Treasure Island for the long view of downtown financial district skyline with the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge in foreground; take mid-span turnoff from bridge; also a dramatic night shot.
  • Telegraph Hill’s Coit Tower plaza for western panoramas of city and bay; take Lombard Street to Telegraph Hill Blvd. Because of heavy traffic during the summer months, public transit (the No. 39 from Washington Square) is highly recommended.
  • Gateway to Chinatown; Grant Ave. and Bush St.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf boat basins; Jefferson St. at Jones.
  • Cable car with Alcatraz and historic Hyde Street Pier exhibition ships in background; Hyde and Chestnut streets.
  • Cable car turntable with bay and Golden Gate Bridge in background from Victorian Park; Hyde and Beach streets.
  • Golden Gate Bridge — under-the-bridge angle from Fort Point in San Francisco’s Presidio, Lincoln Boulevard and Long Ave.; site also affords unusual afternoon view of the city skyline from Fort Point pier immediately east of seawall or nearby Crissy Field (enter off Marina Blvd. and bear right into the Presidio).
  • Golden Gate Park Conservatory of Flowers (Victorian greenhouse) and Japanese Tea Garden adjacent to architecturally dramatic de Young Museum; take J.F. Kennedy Dr. to Music Concourse.


  • Nob Hill cable car intersection, California and Powell Streets (afternoon for California St. long shots; early morning for downhill Powell shots).
  • Twin Peaks for citywide panoramas; Twin Peaks Boulevard.

Late Afternoon/Evening

  • Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco skyline in the background from Marin headlands north of bridge; take Alexander Avenue turnoff and follow Golden Gate National Recreation Area signs leading under Highway 101 south to San Francisco; take first turn west up to headlands.
  • “Postcard Row” Victorian residences with skyscrapers in the background from Alamo Square; Steiner Street between Hayes and Fulton streets.
  • Pier 7 looking towards downtown skyline; Embarcadero at the end of Broadway.

Other scene-stealers:

  • AT&T Park and nearby houseboats on Mission Creek
  • Castro Theater neon sign, Castro and Market streets
  • City Hall, a Beaux Art gem
  • Ferry Building and luscious produce in open-air market
  • Grace Cathedral’s Gothic towers atop Nob Hill
  • Japan Center and Peace Pagoda
  • Legion of Honor classic facade and fairways of nearby Lincoln Park
  • Lombard St. serpentine
  • Ocean Beach
  • Palace of Fine Arts, a Greco-Romanesque landmark
  • Mission Dolores, San Francisco’s oldest standing building
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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