From one of the most photographed bridges in the world to infamous crime scenes and prisons (Alcatraz, anyone?), San Francisco boasts an incredible range of signature spots at which to see and soak up local legend. There’s Hunter S. Thompson’s favorite strip club, the bank that Patty Hearst helped to rob, and the diner where, 20 years ago, poached eggs seemingly caused a murder. Here’s a cheat sheet to some of San Francisco’s most storied spots.
There’s a reason people spend obscene amounts of money to live in San Francisco. It’s beautiful here: Walk halfway across the Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny day and look back at the city if you ever forget why you moved. The great orange span is 1.3 miles of gorgeous views and the gateway to the redwood glens of Marin. You’ve seen it in countless movies and television shows, and it’s a symbol of the city itself, spanning the bay and the Pacific—one of the wonders of the Modern World, deservedly. It’s got a million steel rivets in it, and if you look closely at the gates themselves, you’ll see Art Deco elements, too. Driving across it southbound (without a pass), will cost you quite a bit in tolls, though.
A so-called inescapable experience, a visit to Alcatraz Island brings you to one of the most infamous federal pens in the country, though it only operated for about 30 years. A fort prior to becoming a fortress-like home for convicts, replete with a lighthouse, the island is now a park that plays host to tour groups interested in soaking up its unique history. The prison is a mile-and-a-half from shore in the bay: Inside are honeycombs of claustrophobic (and famously photographed) cells, including the massive central cell block, which once housed Al Capone, among others. Legend has it that those who tried to escape Alcatraz were, um, let’s just say unsuccessful in doing so.
1450 Noriega Street
In February 1974, Patty Hearst, daughter of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by left-wing guerrilla group The Symbionese Liberation Army. Two months later, she was caught on a bank surveillance camera, brandishing an M1 semi-automatic and robbing the place alongside her captors. The former Hibernia bank in the Sunset District is boarded up these days, but it’s a great drive-by stop on your way to Golden Gate Park.
In 1997, a cook at the Pinecrest Diner in Union Square shot and killed a waitress after she berated him about a poached egg order. Stop by anytime (it’s open 24/7) to see a darker part of SF’s culinary history. Maybe skip the eggs?
Hunter S. Thompson once called this skin den “the Carnegie Hall of public sex in America.” Originally a bare-bones adult movie theater, it’s now a full-on strip show emporium. Performers include burlesque legend Tempest Storm and Marilyn Chambers, star of seminal adult film “Behind the Green Door” (filmed at the very theater). Access to the storied venue is $40 at the door ($20 before 6pm).
Managing Editor Patricia DeLuca is a seasoned print and digital editor who has covered topics ranging from luxury cars to wrestlers, tattoo artists to electronic music. Last year, she launched Strutter, a website covering news in plus-size industry. You can check it out at www.ReadStrutter.com