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Jackson Square in San Francisco


Jackson Square

In a Nutshell...

What a difference a century can make. This small district, almost in the shadows of the Transamerica Pyramid, was once in the heart of the Barbary Coast, a criminal district filled with a "horde of gamblers, thieves, harlots, politicians and other felonious parasites" and "was the scene of more viciousness and depravity ... than any other area of vice and iniquity on the American continent."* The buildings you see today were once risque dance halls, bordellos, sleazy bars and, most significantly, a warehouse holding Hotaling's whiskey.


Today it is the home of some of the most tony antique shops in California as well as specialty shops featuring such things as early California art, 19th century posters, and other such refined shopping. The area's dining is equally high end.


Gallery in Jackson Square


Much of the neighborhood's charm is due to its early 1850's construction. These three story brick buildings are practically the only gold rush era buildings to escape destruction in the quake and fires of 1906. The area's survival raised a puzzling theological question immortalized in poem:


If, as they say, God spanked the town
For being over frisky,
Why did He burn the churches down
And save Hotaling's whiskey?


Perhaps the answer to this riddle may not be found in contemplating scripture, but as some have suggested, in the Irishness of the city's firefighters.


Jackson Square shopping district


Jackson Square is bounded by Battery Street to the east, Pacific Street to the North, Washington Street to the south and Montgomery to the west. Central corner: Jackson and Sansome Streets. It is just a few steps off of Columbus and the action of North Beach.


View Jackson Square in a larger map


A fine art gallery in Jackson Square of San Francisco


* From Herbert Asbury's The Barbary Coast. Get it, read it and enjoy.


bottem of the shadow


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