A number of the sites in the neighborhoods of San Francisco I was visiting in 2016 were closed on Saturdays. Most of these, unsurprisingly, were downtown, in and around the Financial District. I knew I’d be heading back to full-time work shortly, after having taken about a year off. So for 3 days in a row in September, I checked out these weekday-only sites.
The Transamerica Pyramid is one of the icons of San Francisco. Built in 1972, it was the tallest building in San Francisco when I took this picture last year. That’s no longer the case, thanks to the Salesforce Tower, topped out in 2017. You can of course see the Pyramid any time night or day. However, the small gift shop and visitor center on the ground floor is only open on weekdays. It closed early the day I went, so I went back again the next day. Fortunately, the lovely Transamerica Redwood Park, located behind the Pyramid, was open.
Wells Fargo Museum
The Wells Fargo Museum is a stop on the Barbary Coast Trail, but only open on weekdays. Admission is free. I was glad about that. I sure didn’t want to give them money after their phony account scam.
Wells Fargo, like so much in San Francisco, was founded during the Gold Rush years to service the boomtown.
Merchants Exchange Building
Old Ship Saloon
The Old Ship Saloon is a stop on the Barbary Coast Trail, but only open on weekdays.
The modern Rincon Center in South of Market is a mixed-use commercial-residential complex that incorporates the Rincon Annex. The Rincon Annex is a former post office built in 1940 in the Streamline Moderne (late Art Deco) style. (We previously appreciated Streamline Moderne on Telegraph Hill and at the Maritime Museum.) I knew virtually nothing about the Rincon Center. I was not prepared for the masterwork waiting on the inside.
The Rincon Annex is home to a stunning series of 27 murals called “History of California”. The series was painted by a Russian immigrant artist throughout the ’40s. The series, done in the Social Realism style, was commissioned by the WPA. Like the work of fellow social realist Diego Rivera, the series was controversial for depicting what were seen as left-wing themes. The murals are very reminiscent of the murals at Coit Tower, which were also commissioned by New Deal project and were similarly criticized for artists’ left-leaning themes that showed up in their work. I’ve included pictures of some of most interesting murals.
Skyscrapers of San Francisco
After lunch at the Rincon Center, I took a stroll through downtown San Francisco to return to the visitor center at the Transamerica Pyramid, which had been closed the day before.
Francisco joined me on my 3rd day of weekday sightseeing. We headed crosstown to get a tour of Temple Emanu-El. We had previously stopped by on Day 5, but it was closed for Saturday services.
Congregation Emanu-El was established in 1850 by Jews who came to San Francisco to strike it rich in the Gold Rush, just like everybody else. It’s the oldest Jewish congregation west of the Mississippi.
That concludes our special weekday tour of San Francisco. I know that for 2017 there will be at least one important weekday-only site: San Francisco City Hall.
[Factual information is primarily gathered from Wikipedia, so you know it must be true.]