Even though the most famous attractions in San Francisco are the incredible bridges that span the San Francisco Bay, the city is home to some pretty awesome skyscrapers as well.
This is pretty remarkable because the city is located in an extremely earthquake-prone area, a type of calamity that has flattened the entire city more than once already. This also means that the tall buildings in the city are built with earthquake-resistant features in mind.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the most famous skyscrapers in San Francisco, landmarks that are somewhat in the shadow of the city’s wonderful bridges but that deserve a list on Art Facts.
1. Transamerica Pyramid
The Transamerica Pyramid is the most distinctive skyscraper in San Francisco, and arguably in all of the United States as well. The tower has the shape of a pyramid and stands 853 feet (260 meters), a height that made it the tallest building in the city between its completion in 1972 and 2018.
It was originally constructed to serve as the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, an American holding company. This corporation eventually moved its headquarters to Baltimore, so now it serves as a regular office tower and picturesque tourist attraction.
2. Salesforce Tower
The Salesforce Tower was originally known as the Transbay Tower and is one of the newest additions to the San Francisco skyline, and what an addition it is! It surpassed the Transamerica Pyramid in height in the year 2018 as it reaches a height of 1,070 feet (326 meters).
The tower is located in the South of Market district in the city which is just south of the Financial District of San Francisco. The top floors of the tower feature a remarkable work of art called “Day for Night,” an electronic sculpture that displays abstract videos that were filmed that day in the city at night.
3. Millennium Tower
The Millennium Tower is another famous skyscraper in San Francisco that is located in the South of Market district of the city, just northeast of the Salesforce Tower. Even though it’s considered to be a mixed-use building, it primarily functions as a residential tower.
The tower reaches a height of 645 feet (197 meters) which makes it the tallest residential skyscraper in the city. The distinctive blue-gray glass and modern design of the structure also make it one of the most beautiful skyscrapers in San Francisco.
4. Russ Building
While the Millennium Tower has a distinctively modern appearance, the Russ Building was designed in the neo-Gothic architectural style. This is similar to the famous Gothic Cathedrals that can be found prominently in Europe that resembles the dominant architectural style of the late Middle Ages.
It’s also one of the oldest skyscrapers in San Francisco as it was completed in 1927, just before the start of the Great Depression. The building stands 436 feet (133 meters) tall, a height that made it the tallest structure in the city between 1927 and 1964.
5. 181 Fremont
The transition from the neo-Gothic Russ Building to the modern 181 Fremont s is quite radical. This magnificent mixed-use skyscraper is located just east of the Salesforce Tower in the South of Market district of downtown San Francisco.
The only area in between the Salesforce Tower and 181 Fremont is the Salesforce Park, a remarkable green area in the city that was an integral part of the Transbay redevelopment project. The tower stands 803 feet (245 meters) tall, as completed in 2018, and its main tenant is Facebook, a company that houses its SF office and Instagram section in the tower’s offices.
6. 44 Montgomery
44 Montgomery is located in the central part of the Financial District of San Francisco and is mainly used as an office tower. It was completed in the year 1967 and was briefly the tallest skyscraper in the western part of the United States with a height of 564 feet (172 meters).
The tower was originally commissioned by the Wells Fargo Bank and the building has been acquired several times throughout its history. Most recently by Beacon Capital in 2017, a company that bought the tower for $473 million.
7. 555 California Street
555 California Street is one of the most famous skyscrapers in San Francisco and an incredible landmark in the city. It’s the building that surpassed 44 Montgomery in height in 1969 as it reaches a height of 779 feet (237 meters).
This also means that it became the tallest building in western America until it was surpassed by the Transamerica Pyramid in 1972. It remains the 4th-tallest building in the city and served as the world headquarters of the bank of America until it merged with NationsBank in 1998, prompting a move to Charlotte, North Carlina.
8. 345 California Center
345 California Center is a skyscraper that was completed in 1986 and is situated in the Financial District of the city. It stands exactly 695 feet (211.8 meters) tall and the top floors are occupied by the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero.
The top section of the skyscraper also offers a remarkable view of both the city and the San Francisco Bay Area from several sky bridges that connect the two sections of the building. This in combination with the presence of the hotel makes the tower a popular tourist attraction as well.
9. Four Embarcadero Center
Four Embarcadero Center is the tallest of interconnected buildings that make up the Embaracadero Center, a group of commercial towers located just west of the historic SF Ferry Building in the Embarcadero district of the city.
The tower was completed in the year 1982 and stands 571 feet (174 meters) tall which makes it only slightly taller than One Embarcadero Center. The bulky towers of the Embercadero Center look pretty imposing as they are located at the edge of the Financial District.
10. The Avery
The Avery is one of the most famous skyscrapers in San Francisco because of its remarkable design, especially near the top of the building. It’s a residential skyscraper and features 118 luxurious condominiums on the top floors and rental apartments on floors 2 to 32.
The tower is located in the South of Market District and is bounded by Folsom Street on the south and Fremont Street on the east. It stands 618 feet (188 meters) tall and is without a doubt one of the most amazing places to live in the sprawling city of San Francisco.