Architecture Downtown

Neighborhood: Downtown


After the 1906 earthquake crumbled and burned San Francisco, the city was back to square one. If it wanted to remain the major American city of the West, it wouldn’t just need to rebuild — it needed to transcend what had been done before.

Over the next century, luminous designers from Chicago and New York would bring their experiences working with new materials set at record heights to innovate the local blueprint. Architects like George Kelham, Willis Polk, William Pereira, and SOM would paint the skyline out of thin air. Julia Morgan, the first female licensed architect in California, would also make her Parisian Beaux Arts training evident downtown. Across the city, beautiful buildings went up every year.

Look up today, and you’ll see a new beacon dominating the sky: the Salesforce Tower, the tallest office building in the West. Hear about how San Francisco’s distinctive skyline and urban plan was shaped in the aftermath of catastrophe. Get to know the architects who revolutionized the way we build — and learn all the secrets of this city’s magnificent rise to the heavens.

Next Tours

  • Sunday, April 14 at 2:00 pm given by Bill F.Sign Up
  • Monday, April 15 at 1:00 pm given by Linda D.Sign Up
  • Monday, April 22 at 1:00 pm given by Tim E.Sign Up
  • Sunday, April 28 at 2:00 pm given by Bill F.Sign Up
  • Monday, April 29 at 1:00 pm given by Edward O.Sign Up
  • Sunday, May 5 at 11:00 am given by Cara T.Sign Up
  • Monday, May 6 at 1:00 pm given by Lisa R.Sign Up
  • Sunday, May 12 at 10:00 am given by Edward O.Sign Up
  • Monday, May 13 at 1:00 pm given by Linda D.Sign Up
  • Sunday, May 19 at 2:00 pm given by Bill F.Sign Up
View Calendar


Formerly known as Rising Steel: 20th Century Downtown Architecture

Tour Length: Approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours



Meet at the corner of Stockton and Maiden Lane, just east of Union Square. Public transportation: MUNI line 38; also near Powell Muni/BART station.


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