Financial District, San Francisco

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references


  • History
  • To see
  • How to reach us

Located near the SoMa and Chinatown neighborhoods, a short distance from Union Square, the Financial District is the economic and financial heart of San Francisco. The main street of the neighborhood, Montgomery Street, is called the "Wall Street of the West".

The Financial District is characterized by a mix of ancient and modern buildings, evidence of the building boom that affected the city during the postwar period, and today it is home to some of the most important financial and commercial institutions in the country.


The history of the Financial District is closely intertwined with that of San Francisco, as is its development. During the time of the gold rush, the Financial District was the economic and commercial heart of the city, and was of such importance, from this point of view, to be defined as the Wall Street of the West.

To meet the expansion needs of the area, a filling was created that included the area from Battery Street to the Embarcadero.
During the postwar period, and until the 80s, the Financial District was at the center of the major infrastructure and building renovation that affected San Francisco, when entire neighborhoods and historic buildings were torn down to make way for more modern buildings. One of the most controversial works of that period is the skyscraper of the Transamerica pyramid, built in 1972, one of the last projects developed before the end of the construction boom, which coincided with the recession of the 80s.

To see

There are many interesting things to see in the Financial District: old-fashioned buildings and ultramodern skyscrapers, skeletons of old stranded ships, boutiques and shops.

Jackson square

The Jackson Square Historic District is home to at least 20 buildings marked as points of historical interest, whose architecture is typical of the nineteenth century. One of these is the building of the Sherman’s Bank. The newly built skyscrapers, belonging to the era of the building boom, placed alongside the older buildings, help to distinguish Jackson Square from the rest of the neighborhood.

Bank of Italy Building

Built in 1908, the Bank of Italy Building is a building of historical interest that belonged to AP Giannini, founder of the Bank of Italy (which later became the Bank of America) and a key figure in the financing of the Golden Gate Bridge. A plaque at the base of the building recalls the docking of the Capitano John B. Montgomery, who was the first to plant the stars and stripes flag on the Californian territory.

The Pacific Coast Stock Exchange

The Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, which opened its doors in 1932, is a very interesting building both historically and architecturally. Designed by Timothy Pflueger, it features a colonnade made up of Doric columns, flanked by two giant sculptures in Yosemite granite, made on site by Ralph Stackpole.

Also to be appreciated is the fresco kept inside, the "Allegory of California", which covers the walls and ceiling adjacent to the large entrance staircase and depicts important personalities of the time.
The San Francisco Stock and Bond Exchange, which became the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange in 1957, is the oldest in the United States, second only to New York.


In the Financial District there are two important skyscrapers, symbol of the post-war building boom: the Bank of America Building, at 555 California Street, which remained the tallest skyscraper in the Mississippi River area from 1969 to 1972; and the Transamerica Pyramyd, at 600 Montgomery Street, built in place of the historic Montgomery Block, which at the time of its construction caused great controversy and today is a symbol of the city.

Submerged ships

With the gold rush, San Francisco experienced the first wave of construction boom. The sailors left the ships in the docking area and ran to look for the gold, abandoning them to their fate. Time and neglect meant that many of these ships were buried under the filling operated to expand the neighborhood.

One of the most famous cases is that of Niantic, which first became a business and then a hotel, whose story is told on a plaque on the corner of Clay and Sansome Street. Some artifacts of the ship are kept at the San Francisco Maritime Museum.

Another famous wreck is that of the General Harrison, which was hit by a fire and sank in 1851, remaining buried for a long time under the city (a restaurant was even built on the site where the ship is located); she was briefly unearthed during some work carried out on the corner of Clay and Battery Street.

Wells Fargo Museum

Wells Fargo & Company is a large financial services company that was born during the gold rush era and is still active today. At 420 Montgomery Street, where it began its business in 1852, today is the Wells Fargo Museum, where numerous artifacts from the time of the gold rush are exhibited, including the gold dust of California's Gold Country and also a mail carriage.

Embarcadero Center

The Embarcadero Center is the right place to do Shopping. Made up of 5 skyscrapers built between 1968 and 1983, the Embarcadero Center is home to several offices, more than 120 shops and restaurants, and the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Since the beginning of November, an ice skating rink has been installed outside the Embarcadero Center.

Where to Eat

Tadich Grill. Located at 240 California Street, 166-year-old Tadich Grill is San Francisco's oldest restaurant. It is the ideal place to enjoy excellent fish dishes.

Bix Restaurant. Located at 56 Gold Street, an alley between Pacific and Jackson Street, the Bix is ​​a restaurant and jazz club where you can eat tasty and refined dishes served in a room with an Art Deco atmosphere.

How to reach us

The Financial Distric is easily accessible both by car and by the main means of public transport.
The Financial District area (Market Street, Montgomery Street) is served by BART trains and MUNI Metro lines J, K, L, M, N, T. Streetline F line runs through Market Street and the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf.
Line 1 of the MUNI Buses crosses California Street and goes to the Embarcadero Center.

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