Chinatown and the Financial District
Welcome to the last regularly scheduled sightseeing day of the 2016 sightseeing season! (Notice how I qualified that “last”?)
Chinatown is easily San Francisco’s most famous neighborhood. It was established (like so much of San Francisco) during the Gold Rush years. It’s the most densely populated neighborhood in the country west of Manhattan. I took quite a few pictures of Chinatown when I passed through on Day 1 along the Barbary Coast Trail. Now I was back for further exploration. Francisco joined me for the day.
The Streets of Chinatown
I stopped by historic Portsmouth Square along the Barbary Coast Trail on Day 1. As it’s a center of Chinatown community culture, I stop by again on Day 7.
Pacific Heritage Museum
The Pacific Heritage Museum is one of the oddest attractions in San Francisco. It is housed in a building that incorporates the former US Sub-Treasury Building, built in 1875. (The Sub-Treasury was the precursor to the Federal Reserve Bank.) The building itself was built on the site of the first San Francisco Mint. The San Francisco Mint opened in 1854 to service the needs of the Gold Rush economy. By 1874, the demands of booming San Francisco outgrew the facilities. The building was demolished and the operations moved into what is now the Old Mint.
As odd as the Pacific Heritage Museum is, its dual nature makes for a perfect segue from Chinatown to the Financial District. The Pacific Heritage Museum is located on Commercial Street, the narrow, now quiet street that was a major business thoroughfare during the Gold Rush era. Commercial Street not one of today’s busy streets of San Francisco’s teeming Financial District. But it’s the perfect route to make a historical straight shot from Chinatown to the Financial District.
Financial District Important Architecture of Financial Importance
On the special Weekday Edition, I bathed in the mightiness of the Transamerica Pyramid and the splendor of the Merchants Exchange Building. That was just a taste of the architecture that embodies San Francisco’s past financial glories.
The Embarcadero Center is a large retail/office/hotel complex built in the ’70s and ’80s where the Financial District meets the waterfront (otherwise known as the Embarcadero). It is arranged along an east-west axis continuing from Commercial Street, and headed straight towards the Ferry Building. We previously saw some of the Embarcadero’s office towers on the special Weekday Edition.
San Francisco Ferry Building
Before the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge opened in the ’30s, taking a ferry was often the best option for reaching San Francisco. The Ferry Building, built in 1898, was a major transportation hub in the city. Now it is a busy office and retail complex.
The Exploratorium is a very hands-on science museum located along the Embarcadero. I found it a little ADHD-inducing, but it is a fun place. (During the 2017 sightseeing season, I discovered that when it comes to San Francisco science museums, I much prefer the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.)
The Cable Car Museum
After the Exploratorium, Francisco and I traveled back across Chinatown to reach the free and fascinating Cable Car Museum. The Cable Car Museum is not just a museum. It’s the cable car powerhouse–the beating heart of San Francisco’s cable car system
Well, that was the last regularly scheduled day of the 2016 sightseeing season. And yes, Chinese food was eaten in Chinatown. But as I alluded to above, there was still some sightseeing to be done before the year was out. Stay tuned.
[Factual information is primarily gathered from Wikipedia, so you know it must be true.]