Splendid Survivors


Have a drink at the bar at Boulevard , one of San Francisco’s finest restaurants (or if you can get a table, splurge on dinner). Boulevard is located in the 1889 Audiffred Building, one of the most beautiful and fortunate earthquake survivors (it was relatively unscathed). Though the restaurant opened in 1993, its classic belle-époque atmosphere (handblown Art Nouveau light fixtures, pressed-tin ceilings) brings diners back to another age.

Book a room (or have a drink) at one of three grand survivors, the Fairmont (which had just been completed at the time of the quake), the St. Francis , or the Palace . All three have been extensively renovated, but each one exudes early San Francisco elegance. For the kitsch factor, have a mai tai in a grass hut while a “thunderstorm” booms around you in the Fairmont’s Tonga Room, a survivor of a more recent era—the 1950s.

Or, for a true Victorian experience, stay at one of Alamo Square’s surviving structures. The Archbishop’s Mansion was built in 1904 for the arch-bishop of San Francisco. Each room is named for an opera, and the spaces are opulent. Around the corner, Chateau Tivoli is an 1892 landmark, built for the owner of San Francisco’s first opera house, the Tivoli. Many famous writers and artists are said to have stayed here, and some have rooms named after them: Jack London, Enrico Caruso, and Lola Montez.