Meet your guide in Union Square in the midmorning or early afternoon, and set off at a leisurely pace among the historic buildings and modern skyscrapers of the Financial District. Learn how this neighborhood once formed the water’s edge during the 19th century and served as the entry point to California for shiploads of miners, merchants, fortune seekers, and immigrants from across the globe.
Visit the Bank of America Plaza on bustling California Street, where a symbol of the modern financial world towers over the site of one of the first ships to arrive during the Gold Rush, where it was abandoned in the bay like many others and later buried by the growing city. Follow the trail of the infamous Barbary Coast, once known as the most dangerous part of town and lined with hundreds of saloons, brothels, and miner’s outposts that popped up nearly overnight after the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada.
Trace the development of the area as land gradually filled in the old waterfront and San Francisco's red light district became an international center for banking and trade. At the end of the 2-hour tour, conclude at the historic Palace Hotel on Market Street, where you can make an optional stop for tea in the landmark’s elegant atrium cafe (own expense).