February 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
From the distance, the Transamerica Pyramid, surrounded by skyscrapers, stands out in the skyline. At its feet, hundreds of men and women in business attire walk hastily to their work place. On any weekday morning, the sound of high heels tapping and clicking onto the concrete echoes in between the tall buildings. Lines of faces looking down at their smartphones form outside of coffee shops.
The place is vibrant, the energy is fast-paced. Welcome to San Francisco’s Financial District or FiDi as some call it mimicking SoMa’s abbreviation for South of Market. Located in San Francisco’s northeast, “the Financial” borders North Beach, Chinatown, Downtown and South of Market. Its exact boundaries vary according to whom you talk to or whose map you are looking at.
“This is where the money’s at, where bankers work,” said Justin Young, a San Francisco native who grew up in the sunset district. Indeed, as its name suggests, the Financial District is home to major corporations, banks, law and investment firms.
Some big name financial institutions are headquartered here, Bank of the West, Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab to name a few. And foreign financial institutions also have branches in the neighborhood, Bank of Guam, BNP Paribas and Bank of India among others.
For Carol Lee who works in finance at the Embarcadero Center, this part of town is “where all the action happens,” and particularly in the finance world. Its importance as an international financial center is recognized, as some call this place the “Wall Street of the West”.
Part of its history explains how and why it became a financial hub for the region. The Financial District was one the first settled area in San Francisco. With inhabitants came businesses, and with them came banks. The historical neighborhood has numerous reminders of its past and presence prominence.
But it isn’t just headquarters, banks and corporate offices.
The Financial District is a major of artery of the city’s public transportation system. Dozens of bus, tramway and cable car Muni lines go through the area. So it is also a “commuting hub” where people come and go as they complete their work-home commute.
And besides the tall office buildings, the FiDi also houses some condominium buildings offering homeowners and tenants a premium location at the heart of San Francisco. Jim Johnson is one of those residents. He and his wife bought a condo last August at the Millennium Tower on Mission Street. For the Johnsons who live in Fresno during the week, this is a weekend residence. “I absolutely love it! The area is perfect: there is tons to do: restaurants, bars, museums,” and most importantly they can walk everywhere and not use their car.
For the merchants and retailers servicing the neighborhood, this is the place to be. For Jan Kielbowicz, owner of Amadeus Flowers at the Embarcadero, “this is the absolute location, the best neighborhood in the city!” Flowers are luxury goods and in this neighborhood “of highly educated people”, passers-by have the means to spend on flowers. Other districts are dead, but not here he said.