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Since 1923, San Francisco Opera has debuted the performances of several well-respected artists including Marie Collier, conductor Silvio Varviso, and director Francis Ford Coppola. Founded by Gaetano Merolo, the War Memorial Opera House, housed in the War Memorial & Performing Arts Center, has been the home of the Opera since 1932. Tours are available only during the opera season. The concert is held on the Sunday following opening night of the Fall Season. San Francisco Opera is the second largest opera company in North America. The Opera's mission is to enrich, be creative and innovative, take leadership and present opera performances of the highest international quality.
At one time this beautiful area in Hayes Valley was scarred by the lanes of the Central Highway. The highway has since been demolished and in its place is Patricia's Green. Renamed for the local community activist Patricia Walkup (it was previously known as Hayes Green), this urban oasis represents many of the ideas that she fought for. With a play area for kids and unique installations of local art put forth by the Hayes Valley Art Coalition, this park delivers a rest from the bustle of the city. Nearby cafes make this neighborhood commons area a fun retreat for the day.
A charismatic metropolis hugging the Pacific coast, built on a series of hills, San Francisco is a major player in the world's growing technology markets. First inhabited by the Ohlone tribe, the land was soon explored by Don Gaspar de Portola. The Spanish constructed a fort at the Presidio and later a mission in the interior city dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi (the city's namesake), now commonly known as Mission Dolores. In 1906, a massive earthquake leveled three-quarters of the city and after major rebuilding it once again boomed as a strategic naval base and manufacturing hub. North Beach and Haight-Ashbury, once the hotbed of Beat culture in post-war era today pay homage to that time at vibrant spots like the City Lights bookstore. In the eye of the dot-com and social media storm, the city is still one of the densest populated in the country. The birthplace of counterculture movements and hi-tech innovation, San Francisco blends cutting edge modern life with West Coast charm.
The city hall building is the site of some of San Francisco's finest moments. In 1954 Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were married here. In the early 21st Century, over 100 same-sex couples were married by Mayor Gavin Newsom in the foyer. The Renaissance architecture rivals some of the country's most historical structures. Two Parisian architects designed and constructed the building from 1913-1915, and the dome is based on the one crowning St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Visitors can pick up brochures and take a self-guided tour between 8a-5p, Monday through Friday. A small store, open during normal business hours, sells traditional San Francisco souvenirs including T-shirts, posters and postcards.
A must for fans of The Maltese Falcon in particular and film buffs, in general. For others, it is an interesting look at what San Francisco was like in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The tour, which explores the posh heights of Nob Hill to the less exalted Tenderloin, hits all the spots that are in the classic film. It lasts about four hours and is three miles long. Meet on the steps of the Main Branch of the Public Library (between Fulton and Grove streets). No reservations are required. Look for the guy in the trench coat. Cash only. Opens Dailyt At Noon.