Union Square is San Francisco's shopping, dining and entertainment mecca. Bordered by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets in downtown San Fran, the Union Square area boasts international labels, department stores, art galleries, fine dining and luxury hotels as well as being the city's main theatre district.
Named for the pro-Civil War demonstrations held in the area and built in 1847, the public square had a multi million-dollar renovation in 2002 where the plaza was paved to allow for events such as an ice-skating rink in winter or outdoor cinema in the warmer months. The square is still watched over by the towering Goddess Victory monument erected in 1903. With plenty of open space to soak up the sun, Union Square is a prime people-watching site with plenty of public transport serving the area.
While there are a few historic buildings, landmarks and fountains in the Union Square district, the majority are modern structures are dedicated to shopping with the sleek, glass facades of flagship stores and upmarket boutiques along the pedestrian-only Maiden Lane. The restored neoclassical American Conservatory Theater building is on Geary Street, and the Italian Renaissance-style Westin St. Francis Hotel, which is the city's second-oldest hotel, resides on Powell Street. Union Square is also home to TIX Bay Area, which serves as a half-price ticket outlet for same-day performances as well as providing full box office services.
While sitting in Union Square and watching the world go by won't cost you a cent, the plethora of shopping opportunities nearby may make your credit card go into meltdown. If you're feeling peckish, the dining options range from diner-style eateries to iconic restaurants. To visit Union Square, the closest BART station is Powell Street, and then it's an eight-minute walk down Powell Street. For a streetcar trip, you can take the Powell-Hyde or Powell-Mason cable car lines which run past Union Square from Fisherman's Wharf.