A Touch of Glass: Glass in San Francisco’s Commercial Architecture

Neighborhood: Downtown


Some of the best examples of modern San Franciscan architecture involve a commonly overlooked design element: glass.

It wasn’t always that way. Make do, plain-front buildings sprang up during the frenzied years of the Gold Rush and gingerbread-covered Victorians were built in the decades that followed. But in 1918 San Franciscans were awe struck when famed architect Willis Polk unveiled his elegant Hallidie Building. The building’s stark and modern glass-curtain front was both an engineering marvel and a harbinger of what was to come. Glass-shrouded buildings have taken over the skyline ever since, from the sleek skin of Financial District skyscrapers to the ornate ceilings of a Union Square landmark.

Next Tours

  • Wednesday, May 29 at 2:00 pm given by Robin S.Sign Up
  • Friday, June 7 at 10:00 am given by Paul F.Sign Up
  • Friday, June 14 at 2:00 pm given by Robin S.Sign Up
  • Friday, June 28 at 10:00 am given by Paul F.Sign Up
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Tour Length: Approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours



242 California Street (Tadich Grill) between Battery and Front.


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Please note: Private group tours required for groups of 8 or more.