San Francisco's Civic Center neighborhood is the municipal and governmental hub of the city. Majestic granite-faced buildings tower over open plazas where thousands of residents gather for planned events and spontaneous protests throughout the year.
San Francisco City Hall stands as the centerpiece of this historic district. Completed in 1915, the current City Hall replaced the original building that crumbled in San Francisco's 1906 earthquake. Now the dome, with gold foil accents glinting in the sun, stands over 300 feet, making it one of the fifth largest domes in the world. Including City Hall, many Civic Center buildings were designed in the beaux arts-style of architecture, displaying grand facades with sculptures and columns, winning the neighborhood a national landmark declaration in 1978.
Across Van Ness Avenue from City Hall, the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center complex occupies over seven acres. This center includes the Davies Symphony Hall, which houses the largest concert organ in North America boasting 8,264 pipes, the War Memorial Opera House, home to both the San Francisco Opera and Ballet companies, and the War Memorial Veterans Building, which houses the Herbst Theater and the Green Room, both used for lectures and performances. The Veterans Building is also home to the Museum of Performance Art and Design, the first museum in the country dedicated to the performing arts.
Many other attractions adorn the Civic Center. The Asian Art Museum moved to the neighborhood in 2003 and now holds more than 17,000 pieces in its collection. Once home to the San Francisco Warriors NBA team, the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium now hosts concerts and conferences year-round.
The area is also covered with a number of large open plazas. The Civic Center plaza that spans two city blocks in front of City Hall. The UN Plaza stretches from Kearny Street to Market Street and is the site of a twice-weekly farmer's market every Wednesday and Sunday. Many sculptures dot these public spaces, including the Pioneer Monument donated to the city in the late 1800s.
Nearby Little Saigon, its entrance marked by an Asian lion sculpture at the intersection of Larkin and Ellis streets, is home to a concentration of San Francisco's Vietnamese residents. The neighborhood offers many dining options like the popular Mangosteen and Bodega Bistro restaurants.