San Francisco has recently welcomed its new architectural crown jewel: the 61-story, 1.4 million-square-foot Salesforce Tower, an addition that will alter the city’s backdrop forever. Just as the new Comcast Technology Center will become the tallest building to adorn the Philadelphia skyline, the Salesforce Tower, due for completion this year, is now the tallest structure in San Francisco and the second-tallest building west of the Mississippi River, surpassed only by L.A.’s Wilshire Grand.
We thought this would be the perfect time to look back at how the city skyline evolved throughout the years, going all the way back to its very first skyscraper. Watch our video below mapping the evolution of San Francisco‘s glassy skyline and read on for some details about its most notable developments.
Chronicle Building Sets the Stage for San Francisco’s Future Skyline
The San Francisco skyline as we know it today started to take shape in 1853, when the Montgomery Block was completed at 628 Montgomery St. The city’s very first fire- and earthquake-proof building, Montgomery Block rose only four stories, yet it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi at the time. The building was demolished in the late 1950s, and ultimately replaced by another architectural landmark: the Transamerica Pyramid.
Yet the city’s first veritable skyscraper was built in 1890 as the home of the San Francisco Chronicle. Upon completion, the Chronicle Building at 690 Market St. was the tallest building in San Francisco and the entire West Coast. A San Francisco Designated Landmark, the Chronicle Building was designed by Burnham & Root, a highly successful architecture firm based in Chicago. After surviving the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and various upgrades, the landmark structure got a new lease on life when it was converted to residential use in 2007. The property now houses the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, and features a restored facade and eight extra stories.
The Chronicle Building held on to its ‘tallest building in San Francisco’ title for eight years. The Call Building was completed in 1889 to house rivaling newspaper The San Francisco Call, and reigned as the city’s tallest structure until 1922. That was the year that the Standard Oil Building took the reins, rising 22 stories at 225 Bush St. in the city’s Financial District. The 580,000-square-foot building served as the headquarters for the Standard Oil Co. for decades, and is now owned by Kylli Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of China-based Genzon Investment Group. However, the property was surpassed by the Pacific Telephone Building just three years later. Completed in 1925, the 26-story Art Deco building housed the headquarters of The Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co., and was the first high-rise south of Market Street. Encompassing nearly 300,000 square feet of space, the tower at 140 New Montgomery St. is now owned by Pembroke Real Estate and its tenant roster includes Yelp! and Bloomberg.
The 1960s Breathe New Life into Skyscraper Construction in San Francisco
If the 1920s proved to be a very productive decade for high-rise construction in San Francisco, development came to a halt during the Great Depression and the Second World War.
However, skyscraper construction bounced back in the 1950s, and experienced a veritable boom during the 1960s. According to the Lakeland Ledger, roughly 40 new skyscrapers were built during the 1960s in San Francisco, including 44 Montgomery in 1966, the Bank of America Center in 1969 and the Transamerica Pyramid in 1972. The last-named caused quite a controversy among San Franciscans before it was even finalized. Earl Caldwell reported in the 1973 The Ledger story that the pyramidal skyscraper–the tallest building in the city for 45 years–was criticized for its location, its spire, and its shape, some even calling it a “Los Angeles-type building.” The 48-story, 500,000-square-foot high-rise was built as the home of the Transamerica Corp., which eventually moved its headquarters to Baltimore, yet maintains a small presence in the building and is still associated with its iconic former home.
San Francisco’s Tallest Building: The Rise of the Salesforce Tower
After towering above the city skyline for over four decades, the Transamerica Pyramid finally relinquished its title of San Francisco’s tallest building last year, when the new Salesforce Tower topped out at 1,070 feet and 61 stories. Tenants like CBRE, Accenture and WeWork–now valued at $20 billion– will join anchor tenant Salesforce at the new tower, upon completion sometime in the spring of 2018. The tower is undergoing the final stage of construction, finishing up the buildout of individual tenants’ space, while Salesforce has already started moving employees into the building, The Examiner reports.
According to Business Insider, cloud computing giant Salesforce will pay developer Boston Properties roughly $560 million over 15 years to lease 30 floors within the new tower at 415 Mission St. The 1.4 million-square-foot, obelisk-shaped tower was designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, which won an international competition back in 2007 to design both the massive office building and the Salesforce Transit Center at its base. Business Insider reports that the Salesforce Tower is expected to house 10,000 Salesforce employees–roughly one-third of the company’s global workforce.
Find San Francisco’s tallest buildings on the map below: