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January 1, 2019

San Francisco: Architecture


Modern buildings in San Francisco’s Financial District, with the city’s new-largest building, the Salesforce Tower, under construction in March of 2017

Modern cities can be a hodgepodge of old and new buildings. In London, for example, the Leadenhall Market, dating from the 14th Century, sits adjacent to the ultra-modern “High-techLloyd’s Building, completed in 1986. Planned poorly, the combination of styles can be jarring and unattractive. However with well-planned and attractive architecture, the combination of old and new can be striking.

San Francisco architecture also combines the old with the new. The difference is that the “old” buildings in San Francisco aren’t really that old; they mostly date from the post 1906 earthquake building-boom. Grand neo-classical and art deco buildings are juxtaposed with modern steel and glass behemoths. Mostly the combination works well, though in fairness, San Francisco’s geographic location is a privileged canvas for any city planner or architect.

(If you are interested in learning more about San Francisco’s architecture, check out the City Guide’s walking tours. There are 90-odd tours to choose from and many feature discussions about the City’s buildings.)

140 New Montgomery Street, also known as The Pacific Telephone Building, is constructed in the Art Deco style.

Completed in 1959 One Bush Plaza, also known as the Crown Zellerbach Building, is a designated landmark.

The Legion of Honor is constructed in the French Neo-Classical style.

Inside the spectacular lobby of 140 New Montgomery

140 New Montgomery

A modern glass and steel building in the Financial District

Looking up at 140 New Montgomery

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