San Francisco built the Civic Center after the devastating 1906 earthquake and fires to provide a central location for local, state and federal government agencies. The Beaux Arts style facades also attracted cultural activities to the area. The neighborhood has hotels, retail shops and residential property as well. Located just north of the SoMa neighborhood, the community is encompassed by Market, Franklin, Turk and Leavenworth Streets.
The area is home to the Asian Art Museum, several private galleries and the city’s ballet company and opera house. The Civic Center Plaza is a common location for festivals and political rallies. A portion of Fulton Street is the site of a pedestrian-only market. There are monuments to the UN, James Lick and Simon Bolivar. The Pioneer Monument is one of the few structures in the area that predate the disaster.
As the epicenter of power and renowned cultural venues, the Civic Center area has numerous restaurants. Food stands are a quick and inexpensive way to enjoy a meal or snack on the plaza. Vendors sell gyros, tamales, kimchi hotdogs, kettle corn, stuffed Indian flatbread and frozen yogurt. Maharani is regarded as one of the best Indian eateries in the city, and Brenda’s French Soul Food serves chocolate beignets and jambalaya. Other ethnic restaurants include Vietnamese, Thai, Peruvian, Mexican and Japanese. A broad assortment of retailers is located near the Civic Center. Shoppers can purchase antiques, bicycles, clothing, jewelry and fine art.
The Civic Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Designated National Landmark. The F Market historic cable car line provides service in the Civic Center area.