City Guides offers an amazing array of free walking tours. We tried the Downtown Deco tour and got a closer look at buildings we'd often just passed by without a second glance. It was a great opportunity to get some exercise and appreciate the fine array of buildings dotting the San Francisco skyline. Therese Poletti led the tour -- she's published a book titled Art Deco San Francisco - The Architecture of Timothy Pflueger and is arguably an authority on the subject of San Francisco Architecture.
We saw a number of interesting buildings along the way including:
Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Building - communication themes abound in the architecture and two giant eagles sit atop the structure. Unfortunately, the security guard was not at his post so we weren't able to go inside. This building is slated to be turned into condos.
Shell Building - amazing gold accents and a lotus motif is visible throughout the lobby.
Pacific Coast Stock Exchange and Tower - This building that once housed the stock exchange is now an Equinox gym. The Tower is home to the City Club. The intricate ceilings in both buildings were amazing to see.
Russ Building - The Russ building edged out the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph building as the tallest in San Francisco. There was a beautiful painted ceiling inside but the security guard would not allow photographs.
Hong Kong Bank - an Egyptian theme complete with scarabs on the facade holds lots of curb appeal.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Did you know that Miami Beach has some of the best Art Deco architecture in the U.S.? Learn all about it with a walking tour of the Miami South Beach Art Deco Historic District.
Hunter-Dulin Building - Dashiell Hammett placed Sam Spade's office in this building. The ceiling was ornately painted with warm amber and brown tones. The columns on the outside of the building were intricately patterned.
450 Sutter - A medical and dental office building, 450 Sutter boasts an incredibly ornate, Mayan inspired metal ceiling and decorations. The building is massive and richly decorated.
Link to photo album showcasing Art Deco architecture in Downtown San Francisco.
We also saw some interesting non-Art Deco sights along the way including this colorful stack of people.
These stone blobs sat across from the colorful statue and seem to be enthralled.
I liked the way the different architectural styles flank this moving wheel sculpture on Mission near 1st Street.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for more cool walks in San Francisco? Check out the Barbary Coast Trail.
After the tour, we stopped at Bread and Cocoa and tried their vegetarian chili. It was the perfect follow-up to a wet and chilly afternoon walk. Their homemade garlic croutons were divine.
The tour covered about 1.3 miles and gave some great history of buildings that I often pass on my way to work but don't always take notice of. I definitely recommend checking out this tour or any of the others in City Guides' extensive line-up. There are some amazing buildings in San Francisco with a rich history just waiting to be explored.
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