Jackson Square

Lonely Planet review

Jackson Square – bounded by Washington, Columbus, Pacific and Sansome – was once the waterfront docks. Italianate brick buildings with tall windows and cast-iron shutters housed whiskey dealers, lawyers, loan offices and other Barbary Coast denizens. Now the province of upscale interior-design showrooms, ad agencies and antiques dealers, the low-slung architecture is a refreshing counterpoint to surrounding skyscrapers.

Current tenants are more subtle about wheedling money from unsuspecting consumers than were previous occupants during the 19th century. Notorious saloon owner Shanghai Kelly and madam Miss Piggot once conked new arrivals on the head and delivered them to ships in need of crew. (Despite their efforts, many ships were abandoned as sailors left to seek their fortune in San Francisco.)