3. Union Square

Union Square, the great public space of downtown San Francisco, was coming into its own by 1906. A monument to Spanish-American War hero Admiral George Dewey was erected there in 1903 and a state-of-the-art hotel facing the park, called the St. Francis (using the English equivalent of the city’s name), was completed in 1904.

“Union Square and St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, Cal.” Photo by Detroit Publishing Co., via Library of Congress

Most of the buildings around Union Square were destroyed by the fires that followed the earthquake. Initial press reports stated that the St. Francis was in ruins; in fact, although it experienced fire damage, the building survived and it reopened in 1907 after repairs were completed. The hotel has been expanded and renovated several times since then, and now operates as the The Westin St. Francis.

“People feeling from the flames resting in Union Square. All buildings shown here afterwards burned”, via Vintage Printable in public domain

The Dewey Monument, though damaged, also survived and still stands in the square.