Offices - San Francisco - A Brief History of Our Neighborhood

Offices - San Francisco - A Brief History of Our Neighborhood

Our office is situated at the intersection of two colorful and historical San Francisco neighborhoods, the Financial District and Jackson Square.

The Financial District is the traditional heart of the City. During the California Gold Rush, the area was the primary focal point of San Francisco’s commercial activity. During the late 1800's, as San Francisco evolved into the financial capital of the Western United States, the Financial District became known as the “Wall Street of the West” and many banks and businesses established their headquarters in the neighborhood. To make room for development, the City deposited landfill into San Francisco Bay from Battery Street, two blocks from our office, all the way to the Embarcadero. Today, the Financial District is home to one of the largest concentrations in the nation of law firms, banks, financial institutions, technology companies and other business, including the corporate headquarters of Wells Fargo Bank, Levi Strauss, Gap, the Charles Schwab Corporation, VISA, Bechtel, the McKesson Corporation, Del Monte Foods, Barclays Global Investors, Union Bank of California and Salesforce.com, among others.

The Jackson Square neighborhood is located directly to the north and east of the Financial District in an area bounded by Montgomery, Washington, Columbus and Battery Streets. Jackson Square’s 19th century scale and architectural style, with its three-story brick buildings and narrow tree-lined streets and alleys, provides a sharp contrast to the modern skyscrapers and commercial buildings of the Financial District. Although the neighborhood formerly was known as the “Barbary Coast” for its rough assortment of Gold Rush era gambling, drinking and entertainment establishments, it is now known more for its advertising agencies, architects, designers and galleries.

Our building, the Transamerica Pyramid is an enduring international symbol of San Francisco and the tallest skyscraper in the City. At 850 feet, the building was among the five tallest buildings in the world when it was completed in 1972. The Pyramid’s obelisk-shaped design, in part, resulted from its architect’s compliance with a strict shadow ordinance imposed by the City. (That architect later won an Academy Award® for set design.) Its façade is covered in crushed quartz, which gives the building its pure white color. The spire at the top features four cameras that provide a virtual observation deck that is controlled through monitors in the lobby. The Pyramid received LEED® Gold Certification, the U.S. Green Building Council’s second highest energy efficiency rating.

The Pyramid sits on the site of the former Montgomery Block, once the tallest building in the Western United States, which hosted many illustrious tenants including Mark Twain, Jack London, George Sterling, Maynard Dixon, Frank Norris, Ambrose Bierce and Bret Harte. It also occupies the site of A.P. Giannini’s Bank of Italy (which became Bank of America) and TransAmerica Corporation (which became Transamerica Insurance). The hull of the whaling vessel Niantic, an artifact of the California Gold Rush, lies almost exactly beneath the Pyramid and its location is marked by a historical plaque outside the building. There also is a plaque in the building’s lobby commemorating the site as the Western terminus of the Pony Express.