Tucked between and above towering skyscapers in San Francisco’s Financial District lie hidden terrestrial treasures. These privately-owned public open spaces (POPOS) are incentivized or required by city planning codes. Ranging from rooftop gardens to courtyards off the side of the streets, each area is perfect to to sit and stare and contemplate the grandeur of the city, or to simply catch a breath from the ardor that is the daily grind.
343 SANSOME ST.
Situated on the 15th floor, this rooftop terrace provides striking views of the city streets and industrial skyline, including the Transamerica Pyramid. Complete with a large, adorned sundial, the space features plenty of seating area and well kept foliage. It's a great spot for a quick lunch or to sit for hours with a book as the shadows around you take note of time passing by.
50 POST ST.
After taking the escalator to the third floor of the Crocker Galleria, you'll come across a set of stairs leading to their rooftop garden. Near the Montgomery St. BART Station with street performers and the steady rhythm of cars passing by, this is the perfect place to sit down and take in the sounds of the city. The Galleria below even provids WiFi and plenty of good food options, making this an optimal location to get some work down in a new outdoor locale.
Beyond the sights below, looking straight up from the terrace, buildings become funhouse mirrors as other disfigured buildings reflect onto their surfaces.
Walking down California, you'll come across tall brown building seemingly made of folds and a wide set of stairs. Coming up these stairs and to the right, is a mezzanine complete with benches, bamboo, and the calming drip of running water.
555 MARKET ST.
Right between 555 and 575 on Market is sleek set of walkways surrounded by greenery breaking up the otherwise industrial set of buildings.
530 MARKET ST.
Just a couple of steps down from 555, is a comfortable courtyard right off the street. Featuring a modern sculpture with water streaming down its sides, spread out seating and pleasant landscaping, this is a great area for a brief respite in the midst of the chaotic streets.
Unlike typical attractions, these areas are purely public goods, primarily meant for the enjoyment of locals, and as such provide a taste of the culture that encapsulates the Financial District.
Whether you’re a San Franciscan looking for a new haunt, Bay Area resident seeking to spend time in the city in a unique way, or visitor from out of town looking for some striking city views, I highly recommend roaming around the Financial District.