Bohemian Club

sights / Architecture

Lonely Planet review

The most infamous, secretive club in all San Francisco was founded in the 19th century by bona fide bohemians, but they couldn't afford the upkeep so allowed the ultra-rich to join. On the Post St side of the ivy-covered club, look for the plaque honoring Gold Rush–era author Bret Harte, which depicts characters from his works.

On the plaque's extreme right is 'The Heathen Chinee.' It's not a racist attack – au contraire – but a reference to the eponymous 1870 satirical poem Harte wrote mocking anti-Chinese sentiment in Northern California. Ironically, upon publication the poem had the opposite effect and became a rallying cry against Chinese immigration. Things are seldom what they seem at the Bohemian Club. Today's member roster lists an odd mix of power elite and famous artists: apparently both George W Bush and Bob Weir are current members.