San Francisco

A “Union Square” is typically a city’s main center for shopping and entertainment, making it a great spot for visitors. San Francisco’s Union Square is a one-block plaza that fits that definition, even though it received its name for a different reason — because it was used for rallies in support of the Union Army during the Civil War. Now, the square — a 10-minute walk or cable car ride away from Loews Regency San Francisco — is an active hotspot filled with public art, shows, and enough stores to make it one of the country’s top shopping destinations. Now, we’re going to look at the area’s past and explore what it has to offer today.

Union Square’s History

The land that Union Square sits upon was originally a sand dune. In 1850, it was built into a public park by San Francisco’s first mayor, John Geary. And in 1903, the Dewey Monument was added. This grand memorial is 90 feet tall and is dedicated to the Battle of Manila victory during the Spanish-American War. Pictured below is the statue named “Victory” that sits upon the monument. It depicts Nike, The Greek Goddess of Victory, holding a trident, and was modeled after wealthy socialite Alma de Bretteville. In her other hand is a wreath that commemorates President William McKinley, who had just been assassinated.

Photo: Carnaval.com Studios

During the 1970s through the 1990s, San Francisco’s Union Square experienced an influx of homeless people and negative disruption. Many public events, like New Year’s Eve, would leave the space grimy and covered in trash. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that city officials closed down the park for renovation. In 2002, it reopened with a design that’s easier to clean (ie: more cement) and an underground parking lot. It also has a business improvement association that manages the efforts that keep it thriving.

Photo by Roger Wollstadt, 1968

Union Square Now

Photo by Beyond My Ken

The area is now an active hub for the city and a destination for locals and travelers alike. There is a wide variety of sights, attractions, and places to visit near Union Square — below are just a few of my suggestions.

A Wonderful Place to Wander

Photo by @wanderflix

There’s really no wrong way to wander around San Francisco. Anywhere you go, you’ll find something fun and inspiring. Union Square is a dynamic and historic landmark and space for public social gatherings. Plus, it’s constantly getting better. Become a part of that history the next time you’re in town by visiting the area and relishing in its rich history.

Cheers and happy shopping,

David