/ San Francisco Traveler
San Francisco — By Katrina Verweel on December 18, 2009 at 9:30 am
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Jackson Square: Then and Now

Jackson Square

Once known as the famous Barbary Coast, Jackson Square is a unique spot that has remained intact since the California Gold Rush. This area has also survived the earthquake and fires of 1906; the only commercial district to live on in the whole city. The three-story buildings in Jackson Square date back to the 1850s and face narrow tree-lined streets and contain tight quiet alleyways.

When the gold rush hit San Francisco in 1848, miners flocked to the area and would bring nuggets of gold to the Assay Office, which is now Bix Restaurant on Gold Street. This trendy spot has been voted one of the Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants. It is located on one of Jackson Square’s narrow streets and almost feels like you need a secret code to get in. There is only a lone neon sign pointing the way inside, but you will be impressed when you walk into the soaring room with tall columns, mahogany detailing, and authentic artwork.

Entrance of Bix Restaurant

Entrance of Bix Restaurant

Back to the earthquakes and fires in the area, there is a famous saying on a plaque that is mounted on the side of the A.P. Hotaling Company, an old whiskey distillery on Hotaling Street that says:

“If, as they say, God spanked the town for being over-frisky, why did he burn the churches down and spare Hotaling’s Whiskey?”

Thus, the distillery has an even stronger presence in the city of San Francisco; it was apparently built to survive. While millions of dollars worth of regular building materials and other household items were destroyed in the earthquake and fires, somehow, thousands of highly inflammable barrels of whiskey were preserved.

If you are interested in visiting the distillery, it now is called Anchor Brewing and has eight unique beers, also featuring Old Potrero Single Malt Hotaling’s Whiskey in commemoration of the 1906 earthquake and fire. Two public tours are available every week by reservation only and are free of charge. Tours are very popular, so make sure to book well in advance. The tour of the brewery lasts 40-45 minutes, followed by a tasting session. The entire tour lasts around two hours.

Today, Jackson Square is the main art and antique district in San Francisco and the hub of modern life. Around two dozen art and antique dealers are in the confined area featuring American and European furnishings and accessories, as well as Asian carpets and vintage poster galleries.

To learn more about Jackson Square and the Barbary Coast, take the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society’s Barbary Coast Trail. Bronze medallions and arrows set in the sidewalk lead you on the 3.8-mile trail.

Photo credit: keenduck, x2

6 places are mentioned in this post!
  1. Bix
    Voted one of the best bars in America by Playboy and who are we to argue?
Click on the place name to learn more


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