Union Square.

Union Square

Downtown, Civic Center & SoMa

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 central pillar is the Goddess of Victory, who is apparently having a wardrobe malfunction. This bare-breasted deity is modeled after Big Alma Spreckles, who volunteered her nude-modeling services when she heard sugar-baron Adolph Spreckels was heading the monument committee. Spreckles became her 'sugar daddy,' and Alma donated her fortune to build the Legion of Honor.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Downtown, Civic Center & SoMa attractions

1. I Magnin Building

0.06 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…

2. 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…

3. Frank Lloyd Wright Building

0.09 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. 450 Sutter St

0.11 MILES

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…

5. 49 Geary


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

6. James Flood Building

0.21 MILES

This 1904 stone building survived the 1906 earthquake and retains its original character, notwithstanding the Gap flagship downstairs. Upstairs,…

7. Bohemian Club

0.22 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…

8. Dragon's Gate

0.22 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…