Union Square, CA

San Francisco
Union Square featuring central business district, signage and a city
Fashion puts on its finest face in one of the country’s largest shopping plazas.

Union Square, located downtown, is a fashion nexus of department stores and upscale boutiques. Shop for high-end labels like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Burberry and Hugo Boss. For a uniquely San Francisco shopping experience, head to Gump's where the well-heeled come for home décor. Within a few blocks you can pick up the latest looks from the catwalk, as well as classic antiques and jewelry. Shopping in the square is a year-round activity, with early morning being the quietest period to hit the stores.

The city’s central hub of retail was dedicated by its first mayor John Geary in 1850 and named after the pro-union Civil War rallies that were held here. The name, Union Square, refers to the park that is bordered by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton streets. It was conceived to be a green oasis and public plaza.

By the 1880s this was a smart residential district, but the famous San Francisco fire and earthquake of 1906 devastated the area’s hotels and shops. It was rebuilt, better than ever, and today Union Square is a premier shopping and dining area with a lively and historic character.

At the center of this public plaza is the impressive Dewey Monument, a tall Corinthian column topped by a bronze statue of the goddess Victory bearing a trident. This landmark commemorates Admiral George Dewey’s decisive win at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish American War. There are also modern art sculptures to view, as well as plenty of spots in the sun, at cafés or on the stone steps, to just watch the world go by.

Parking is tricky but the best, if pricey, option is the parking station right underneath the square. Completed in 1934, it was the world's first underground parking structure. Or, hop on one of the quintessential antique streetcars that pass Union Square at regular intervals.

Popular places to visit