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Attractions in San Francisco

S.F.Fisherman's Wharf
Eighty-seven percent of San Francisco's visitors include Fisherman's Wharf on their itinerary. With good reason. Waterfront marketplaces include The Anchorage, The Cannery, Ghirardelli Square and PIER 39. The Wharf's working hub, "Fish Alley," sells thousands of tons of sole, shrimp, salmon, sea bass, squid and other deep sea delicacies annually. During the crab season (mid-November through June) devotees line up for the best of the catch. For an impromptu picnic, order some cracked crab and pick up a loaf of sourdough French bread from a nearby bakery.
A fleet of historic ships berths at Hyde Street Pier, a component of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, which also includes the Maritime Museum. The USS Pampanito, a WWII fleet submarine, may be boarded at Pier 45.

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The entrance to Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Bush Street is called the "Dragon's Gate." Inside are 24 blocks of hustle and bustle, most of it taking place along Grant Avenue, the oldest street in San Francisco. This city within a city is best explored on foot; exotic shops, renowned restaurants, food markets, temples and small museums comprise its boundaries. Visitors can buy ancient potions from herb shops, relax and enjoy a "dim sum" lunch or witness the making of fortune cookies.


Golden Gate Bridge
Crossing the strait of the Golden Gate from San Francisco to the Marin headlands for 1.7 miles is the world-renowned Golden Gate Bridge, easily identified by its International Orange color. Opened in 1937, the bridge was built at a cost of $33 million and 10 workers' lives. The single-suspension span is anchored off the shores of the bay by twin towers that reach skyward 750 feet, and was once taller than any building in San Francisco. To support the suspended roadway, two cables more than 7,000 feet in length, containing 70,000 miles of wire stretch over the top of the towers and are rooted in concrete piers on shore. Ten years in planning due to formidable opposition, but only four years in actual construction, the Golden Gate Bridge brought the communities of San Francisco and Marin county closer together.

Bird watchers, beachcombers, hikers, cyclists, surfers, surf fishers, picnickers and nature lovers flock to both sides of the Golden Gate and the coastal range to The City's south. This phenomenon is the result of a stunning environmental breakthrough. Congress, in October, 1972 enacted legislation creating the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) and mandated the National Park Service to develop and administer it. Today, the GGNRA is the largest urban park in the world and the most popular in the national system.

The Park Service discovered that it's difficult to separate fact from fiction in researching the history of la Isla de los Alcatraces (Isle of the Pelicans). Under the Federal Prisons Bureau (1933-62), legend of the Devil's Island and "Hellcatraz" genre was allowed to flourish to perpetuate The Rock's image as a dreaded, escape-proof citadel.

Since 1858 Alcatraz has been successively a fortification, a U.S. military prison, an army disciplinary barracks, a federal penitentiary and an American Indian stronghold.

On March 21, 1963, the last of The Rock's inmates--27 pale men in wrist and leg shackles--were transferred to other federal penal institutions. The last of the Native Americans who subsequently claimed the island as their birthright were evacuated June 11, 1971.

Alcatraz is now a component of the Bay Area's 74,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area created by Congress and signed into law by President Nixon Oct. 27, 1972. Many of its buildings were gutted by fires set by the Native American occupiers or razed by the General Services Administration when The Rock's future was in limbo.

But the main prison block with its steel bars, claustrophobic (9 x 5-foot) cells, mess hall, library and "dark holes," where recalcitrants languished in inky blackness, is structurally intact. So is the windswept exercise yard with its concrete bleachers and towering walls topped by guard towers and catwalks.

Steep streets and brightly painted Victorian houses give this upper Market "Gay Mecca" neighborhood that distinct San Francisco look. The Castro is a series of imaginative boutiques, bookstores and bars. Novelty items abound in shops at the end of Market Street between 16th and 17th Streets.

One of the most photographed locations in San Francisco, Alamo Square's famous "postcard row" at Hayes and Steiner Streets is indeed a visual treat. A tight, escalating formation of Victorian houses is back-dropped by downtown skyscrapers, providing a stunning contrast.


S.F.Civic Center
San Francisco' s widest street, Van Ness Avenue, runs straight down the middle of Civic Center, a Beaux Arts architectural wonder where The City's symphony, opera and ballet dazzle audiences. One of the area's crown jewels, the War Memorial Opera House, is one of the world's greatest opera houses.

Near Pacific Heights on Fillmore Street south of Broadway are a number of intimate cafes and restaurants as well as a concentration of upscale clothing, kitchenware and home furnishings stores. Foreign films fascinate at the import film house on Fillmore near Clay. The 2000 to 2200 blocks offer a smorgasbord of shops dealing in vintage clothing, costumes and the "next-to-new." The Juneteenth Celebration is an outdoor event held each June to celebrate African American culture. Jazz and All that Art on Fillmore, a lively street fair held during the July 4 weekend, celebrates the area's deep jazz roots.


The "Summer of Love" lives on mainly in stores throughout this charming Victorian sector; vintage clothing, books and records are abundant along Haight Street, the neighborhood's busiest stretch.

Places of interest include 710 Ashbury Street, once home to the legendary musical group, the Grateful Dead; 112 Lyon Street, where famous singer Janis Joplin lived; Buena Vista Park, with its delightful views of The City; and, for architectural highlights, Masonic, Piedmont and Delmar Streets.

The heart of Japantown is Japan Center, a five-acre complex of hotels, shops, theaters, sushi bars and restaurants at Post and Buchanan Streets. It is crowned by a five-tiered pagoda, a symbol of eternal peace. Locals call this sector "J-Town." More than 12,000 residents of Japanese descent call it home. There is much to learn from this small slice of Japanese life

* The shop-lined Nihonmachi Mall was designed to imitate a traditional Japanese village.
* Food and flowers are often placed on the fine wood altar of The Konko Kyo Temple on Bush Street.
* The Webster Bridge midway in the Japan Center evokes the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

Visitors wishing to take a little piece of Japantown home can purchase Japanese vegetable seeds for planting, silk-embroidered kimonos, books on Japanese arts and crafts, silk calligraphy scrolls, tea ceremony utensils and many other traditional items. Each April, Japantown celebrates its Cherry Blossom Festival. Taiko drumming, martial arts, doll-making and calligraphy demonstrations lead to a colorful parade.

The Marina
The Marina was developed on the site of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Marina Green, a grassy playground with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay, attracts joggers, sunbathers and kite fliers. The terracotta Palace of Fine Arts is home to the hands-on science museum, Exploratorium. Off Marina Boulevard, streets are dominated by grand stucco houses and flats. Chestnut Street brims with inviting stores, restaurants and watering holes.

Mission District
The heart of San Francisco's predominantly Hispanic neighborhood is 24th Street, a colorful collection of restaurants, taquerias, Mexican bakeries, fresh produce markets and specialty shops. Mission Dolores at 16th and Dolores Streets is the oldest structure in San Francisco. Many of The City's pioneers are buried in an adjacent cemetery. The largest concentration of murals in The City, each reflecting the pleasures, passions and pitfalls of their respective creators, adorn buildings, fences and garage walls throughout the neighborhood. May is an especially high-spirited month in the Mission District. That's when San Francisco celebrates Cinco de Mayo and Carnaval, each culminating with exciting parades. Carnaval is considered The City's version of Mardi Gras.

Nob Hill
Of The City's many hills, Nob Hill boasts perhaps the best view of San Francisco Bay, especially when observed from a California Street cable car, running from the foot of Market Street, over the hill and down to Van Ness Avenue. Nob Hill's noble tenants include Grace Cathedral, a replica of Notre Dame in Paris; Huntington Park, site of many arts shows and graced by a replica of a 16th century Roman fountain; Nob Hill Masonic Center, an architectural dazzler hosting various musical events; the Cable Car Museum; and grand hotels.

North Beach
North Beach, rich in Italian heritage compresses cabarets, jazz clubs, galleries, inns, family style restaurants and gelato parlors into less than a square mile. Bakeries and delicatessens serve up such traditional Italian delicacies as prosciutto, provolone, mozarella, St. Honore cake and sacripantina. A perfect spot for cappuccino and espresso, North Beach is transformed into one of San Francisco's most electric playgrounds by night; live music and dancing keep the streets swinging.


Pacific Heights
Stately Victorians crown hills blessed with glorious views in San Francisco's most prestigious neighborhood. Consulates, finishing schools and condominiums share this tree-lined perch with The City's wealthiest families. Jackson Street near the northwest corner of Alta Plaza Park is a good place to begin a tour of the neighborhood's mighty mansions. The house tour reaches its apex along the Broadway bluff between Webster and Lyon Streets. Of historical and architectural interest are the Spreckels Mansion, 2080 Washington Street; the Whittier Mansion, 2090 Jackson Street and the Bourn Mansion at 2550 Webster Street The area also boasts magnificent views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Richmond District
In the Richmond District it is possible to shop in a Russian grocery, sip a beer in an Irish pub and have dinner in a Chinese restaurant, all within short walking distance of one another. A myriad of cultures inhabit the Clement Street shopping sector and Geary Boulevard. Russian bakeries offering piroshki and kulich bread adjoin Greek delis and kosher meat markets. With an estimated 35 percent of The City's Chinese-Americans residing in the area, Chinese food markets, restaurants and dim sum parlors so abundant that the area is known as The City's second Chinatown.

South of Market, also known as "SoMa," is two square miles of hot nightclubs, fashionable restaurants, experimental theaters, discount shopping outlets and art galleries, plus the nation’s most beautiful ballpark. Bordering SoMa to the east is another emerging area known as the City Front District, encompassing the Steuart Street area north of Justin Herman Plaza and the Ferry Building.

Thousands originally from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have given this 20-square-block district west of Union Square new life. Sermons on social justice blend with rockin' choir music on Sundays at Glide Memorial Church on Ellis Street, symbolizing the neighborhood's resurgence. An experimental theatre house, jazz and blues clubs, 200 restaurants and cafes, bookstores and billiards point to an upbeat feeling.

Union Square
The landmark park in the heart of the City, San Francisco's Union Square re-opened on July 25, 2002 after an 18-month renovation. Sporting new granite plazas, a new terraced stage on Post Street, light sculptures designed by artist R.M. Fischer, a new café and four grand entrance corner plazas bordered by the park's signature palms, the remodeled square pays tribute to the Square's distinctive history and captures the unique flavor and beauty of San Francisco.

Union Street
The first neighborhood in San Francisco to convert its gingerbread Victorians into popular boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, Union Street's distinct turn-of-the-century atmosphere makes a walk along its streets a delightful journey back in time, at least from an architectural perspective. The attitude along modern day Union Street, however, is anything but old-fashioned. This is where some of The City's most fashionable and upscale citizens live and play.





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