Union Square was once the focus of pro-Union Army rallies. San Francisco named the plaza to commemorate the demonstrations in support of the federal troops. The one-block square lends its name to the surrounding neighborhood. The community is bounded by Chinatown, SoMa, Nob Hill, the Tenderloin and the historic French Quarter. Union Square has the largest concentration of shops, galleries, eateries, hotels and performance venues in the western United States.
Foodies can sample ethnic cuisine inspired by kitchens from around the planet. Italian, Mexican and Japanese restaurants are perennial favorites but Pan-Asian-Californian, Cambodian, French and Vietnamese are wonderful choices as well. Union Square restaurants offer budget-conscious selections, fine dining experiences and everything in between. Union Square nightlife includes establishments that feature the allure of a prohibition era speakeasy, where big bands can still swing and the beat of modern techno music draws crowds.
Shoppers will discover a wide range of shops and boutiques that sell the latest in clothing, shoes, jewelry and electronics. High-end stores include Tiffany & Co., Goyard, Armani, De Beers, Prada and In Fiore, a San Francisco company that customizes beauty products. Opened in 1904, the St. Francis is the only hotel on the plaza. The property was established as an investment for the minor children of Charles Crocker, an entrepreneur who helped build the Central Pacific Railroad.
San Franciscans gather on the square to celebrate their love for cable cars during the annual bell ringing competition. The plaza is the backdrop for festivities holidays when the community honors the heritage and contribution of citizens from around the world. Two cable car lines, including the historic F Market streetcar, serve the neighborhood.