Old St Mary's Cathedral & Square

sights / Religious

Old St Mary's Cathedral & Square information

San Francisco , USA
660 California St
+1 415 288 3800
Getting there
Tram: California St
Bus: 1, 30, 45
More information
Opening hours
cathedral 11am-6pm Mon & Tue, to 7pm Wed-Fri, 9am-6:30pm Sat, 9am-4:30pm Sun
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California's first cathedral was started in 1854 by an Irish entrepreneur determined to give wayward San Francisco some religion – despite its location on brothel-lined Dupont St. The 1906 earthquake miraculously spared the church's brick walls but destroyed a bordello across the street, making room for St Mary's Square. Today, skateboarders do tricks of a different sort in the park, under the watchful eye of Beniamino Bufano's 1929 pink-granite-and-steel statue of Chinese revolutionary Sun Yatsen.

Eventually the archdiocese abandoned attempts to convert Dupont St and handed the church over to America's first Chinese community mission, run by the activism-oriented Paulists. During WWII, Old St Mary's served 450,000 members of the US armed forces as a cafeteria and recreation center. The church still holds regular Tuesday noontime concerts (suggested donation $5).