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The Financial District and Jackson Square

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Clustered on either side of the landmark Transamerica Pyramid, these districts are all business on the outside. But among the skyscrapers and historic warehouses, plenty of gems are waiting to be found.

History: Some of the brick buildings of Jackson Square date back to the gold rush. Today, they house antique stores and art galleries but in the late 19th century, this was the heart of the Barbary Coast– a district known for its brothels, gambling houses, and opium dens. Much of the neighborhood was created by filling in the bay, and the sunken remains of dozens of gold rush-era tall ships (abandoned by crews eager to get to the gold fields) are still buried down there somewhere.

Don’t Miss: Among its upper-crust antique showrooms, Jackson Square features modernist furniture emporiums, like Hedge Gallery, offering mid-century decorative arts. For a taste of history, the financial district has Belden Place, the center of the French Quarter, as well as Tadich Grill, the city’s oldest continuously operated restaurant– you can’t do better than a bowl of steaming cioppino with a side of sourdough and a class of chardonnay. For a modern-and extravagant- culinary experience, head to Quince.