History Lessons: The Haute 5 Historical Landmarks in San Francisco

Another Tuesday has rolled in and that can only mean one thing here at HauteLiving.com: it’s time for the Tuesday Haute 5. Last week we took you on a Field Trip to the Haute 5 Cultural Institutions in San Francisco, based on recommendations from our readers like Roberta Economidis, Richard Baumbart, John Conover, and Pat Kuleto. Today, we are revisiting the answers that the VIPs of San Fran provided on their Haute Secrets Insider’s Guide to the City and touring the historical institutions that have created the foundation of the city, upon whose shoulders we stand today.

Golden Gate Bridge

As California Historical Landmark No. 974, the Golden Gate Bridge might be an obvious choice, which is why it would be a sin to leave it off the list. Famed restaurateur Pat Kuleto must have thought so too, because he listed the structure as one of his favorite historic/legendary places to see or explore. “You just can’t beat that view,” he says. Construction began on the bridge in 1933, and the city celebrated its completion on May 27, 1937. Officially, the bridge’s 4,200 feet of clear span (from tower to tower) was the longest in the world until 1959.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park has celebrated many historic designations over the past 100 years. The Golden Gate Park Historic District, Beach Chalet, and Conservatory of Flowers, are the landmarks within the park that have been registered as listings on the national level, so it makes sense that Jeff Farber would consider this space as one of his favorites. Construction began back in 1878, and the area has been continuing to attract visitors—both locals and tourists alike—for the more than 130 years.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower was constructed in 1933 at the request (and funding) of Lillie Hitchcock Coit. The historical tower sits atop Telegraph Hill, 210 feet to be exact, looming over the eastern side of San Francisco, and as Roberta Economidis says, “the murals inside are wonderful and the views outside are spectacular. You are on top of the Bay!” Though many rumors still persist as to Lillie Hitchcock Coit’s motivations for the design, a plaque at the place puts that all to rest:

This 210-foot monument was built in 1933 with monies bequeathed by Lillie Hitchcock Coit to beautify The City she loved. Frescoes were painted in the interior of the newly built structure by local artists funded through the United States Government’s Public Works of Art Project. This plaque is placed by the Recreation and Park Commission October 8, 1983 to mark Coit Tower’s 50th Anniversary and its designation as an historic landmark.

Embarcadero Historic District

Chip Conley’s favorite place in this category is the Embarcadero Historic District, which runs from Pier 45 to Pier 48 (1, 1 1/2, 3, and 5) on the National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco and is one of the largest surviving pier complexes along San Francisco’s Embarcadero.

Alcatraz Island

Dating back to 1853, and claiming one of the oldest spots on the National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco, the Alcatraz Historic District encompasses 470 acres with 18 buildings and 28 contributing structures. What began as military property, and later, in 1934, transformed into a civilian prison, saw a much lighter reincarnation in the mid-20th century. The prison was closed in 1963, and 10 years later the island was opened to the public as the first unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A trip to this historic landmark may not conjure up some of the most hautest of notions, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t captivate the imaginations, as witnessed from Director of Wine and Sommelier for The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco Stephane Lacroix’s Haute Secrets Insider’s Guide to the City.