San Francisco's Skyscrapers
San Francisco, California is a compact city. Over 835,000 people are packed into less than 47 square miles. But what the city lacks in size, it makes up for in height: San Francisco has 453 high-rise buildings, many of which are over 500 feet high.
San Francisco's first skyscraper was the Chronicle Building, a 218-foot tower completed in 1890. Not to be outdone, the Chronicle's rival newspaper commissioned their own 315-foot tower in 1898. The Call Building would remain the city's tallest for 25 years. Several 300- and 400-foot buildings were constructed in the 1920s. A second building boom lasted from the late 1960s through the 1980s, culminating in the 853-foot Transamerica Pyramid. Opponents of this "Manhattanization" of San Francisco led to local legislation of some of the nation's strictest building height limits and regulations.
Skyscraper construction slowed to nearly a halt during the 1990s. To encourage new development, the city passed several neighborhood plans allowing taller skyscrapers in certain specific locations south of the Market area. The five tallest buildings in San Francisco currently include the Transamerica Pyramid, 555 California Street, 345 California Center, Millennium Tower, and One Rincon Hill South Tower.
The Transamerica Pyramid is an iconic part of the San Francisco skyline. Although it is no longer the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, the building is still depicted in the company's logo. In 1979, at the time of its completion, it was the eighth tallest building in the world. The 48-floor, pyramid-shaped structure has become one of the many symbols of the city. Tourists may visit the historic visitor center and retail area located on the ground level.
555 California Street
A focal point of the San Francisco Financial District is the 555 California Street building. At 779 feet and 52 floors, this tower was the tallest building on the West Coast upon completion in 1969. Its foundation includes two enormous Teflon slabs designed to slide over each other during an earthquake. Visitors may take in a panoramic scene from the top-floor Carnelian Room lounge and restaurant, view rotating exhibits in the Concourse Gallery, and explore the plaza along California Street featuring a dark, polished sculpture popularly dubbed "The Banker's Heart."
345 California Center
Ranking 3rd among the tallest buildings in San Francisco is 345 California Center, a 48-floor office tower with spires that reach a height of 695 feet. Completed in 1986, the building is owned by Metropolis Investment Holdings. Initially planned as condominiums, the building's top eleven floors are part of the Loews Regency San Francisco Hotel, where guests can enjoy sweeping views from a tower suite or one of the building's glass skybridges.
Millennium Tower, completed in 2009, is the tallest residential building in San Francisco. Its residences are said to be the priciest on the West Coast, with top floor penthouse units on the top two floors priced at around $12 million. RN74, a restaurant and wine bar under the direction of Chef Michael Mina, located on the ground floor.
One Rincon Hill South Tower
One Rincon Hill ranks 5th among the tallest buildings in San Francisco. It is an upscale residential complex on the top of San Francisco's Rincon Hill. Two skyscrapers share a common townhouse podium. Completed in 2008, the South Tower stands 60 stories and 641 feet tall. It also features high-speed elevators with special features for transporting residents quickly and efficiently, and a large water tank designed to keep the skyscraper stable despite strong winds and earthquakes.