450 Sutter St

Downtown, Civic Center & SoMa

A 26-story deco dental building fit for the gods, this 1929 Mayan-revival stone skyscraper has a lobby covered floor to ceiling with cast-bronze snakes representing healing, grimacing figures apparently in need of dentistry, and panels covered with mystifying glyphs – early insurance forms, perhaps? With glowing inverted-pyramid lights, this Timothy Pflueger–designed landmark makes getting a cavity filled seem like a spiritual experience.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Downtown, Civic Center & SoMa attractions

1. Ruth Asawa's San Francisco Fountain

0.07 MILES

Covered in local landmarks and colorful SF characters – burlesque icon Carol Doda, psychedelic rockers Jefferson Airplane, protesters declaring themselves…

2. Union Square

0.11 MILES

High-end stores ring Union Sq now, but this people-watching plaza has been a hotbed of protest, from pro-Union Civil War rallies to AIDS vigils. Atop the…

3. Frank Lloyd Wright Building

0.13 MILES

Shrink the Guggenheim, plop it inside a yellow-brick box with a round Romanesque entryway and put it where you'd least expect it: on a shady SF alley that…

4. Dragon's Gate

0.14 MILES

Enter through the Dragon archway donated by Taiwan in 1970, and you'll find yourself on the street formerly known as Dupont in its notorious red-light…

5. I Magnin Building

0.15 MILES

When Timothy Pflueger’s radical design was revealed on Union Sq in 1948, SF society was shocked: San Francisco’s flagship clothing store appeared…

6. Bohemian Club

0.23 MILES

San Francisco's infamous, secretive men's club was originally founded by bonafide bohemians – but they couldn't afford the upkeep and allowed the ultra…

7. 49 Geary

0.24 MILES

Pity the collectors silently nibbling endive in austere Chelsea galleries – at 49 Geary, First Thursday art openings mean unexpected art, popcorn and…

8. Old St Mary's Cathedral & Square

0.25 MILES

California's first cathedral was started in 1853 by an Irish entrepreneur determined to give wayward San Francisco some religion – despite the cathedral's…