YABA5 - clue 1 - ghirardelli plaques
Ghirardelli Square's Historic Walking
click on numbers below to zoom to specified plaque
Plaque #1 -Domingo Ghirardelli
THE LEGEND OF DOMINGO GHIRARDELLI
The founder and forefather of Ghirardelli Square
and Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., Domingo Ghirardelli was born in
Rapallo, Italy in 1817. Educated in common parochial schools,
as a young man he was sent to Genoa, Italy to serve as an apprentice
to a confectioner named Romenengo. There he learned how to make
candy, sugar loaves, chocolate, pastries, liqueurs, coffee and
Domingo married at age 20 and sailed with his wife
to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, where he worked in a coffee
and chocolate establishment for a year before they moved to Peru.
In Lima, his wife died without warning; he marked a widow named
Carmen Alvarado in the fall of 1845.
By 1848 the news of the California gold rush reached
Lima, and Domingo left his family behind to seek his fortune as
a gold miner. Months after arriving in Stockton he went for some
supplies. Limited by the merchant in what he could buy, Ghirardelli
took orders from other miners and headed for San Francisco to
stock up on foodstuffs.
Back in Stockton he used his excess supplies to
set up shop - in a tent - as a general merchant. Soon after, he
opened a store in San Francisco, which was to primarily serve
as a supply base for his Stockton store.
In May of 1851 the fifth of San Francisco's great
fires, which started in a paint shop, claimed Domingo's Battery
Street store along with 1,500 other buildings; three days later
a fire burned half of Stockton to the ground, again including
Domingo's store among the 100 businesses destroyed.
In September of that year he bought a coffee house
in San Francisco, which he sold after six months. In 1852, the
D. Ghirardelli Co. was founded; the first store sold candy, syrup,
coffee, pastes, fruits and pastries. That same year he sent for
his family from Lima. The next year he moved his store to the
corner of Jackson and Mason Streets and the family moved in upstairs.
It was late in 1855 that the "manufactory," as it was called,
and the family's residence were moved to the corner of Greenwich
and Powell Streets.
Machinery was imported from Peru and Switzerland.
Ten years later the company made its most important innovation
in the manufacture of ground chocolate.
Called "the Broma process," this innovation required
hanging a bag of chocolate in a warm room to permit the cocoa
butter to melt and drip out. The remaining residue could then
be processed into ground chocolate.
Plaque #2 - Factory whistle
In its days as a place of maufacture Ghirardelli
Square was referred to as "the factory," whose workers' shifts
began and ended with the call of the factory whistle, appropriately
located in the Clock Tower. It was also blown as a farewell salute
to ocean-going family members as they sailed out the Golden Gate
aboard one ocean liner or another. In a more patriotic vein, it
was also blown as troop-filled ships cruised off to combat in
World Wars I and II and the Korean War.
Plaque #3 - Growing Years
The evolution of the Domingo's Chocolate Manufactory
extended through 1857 to expand and open more stores across the
Bay in Oakland. In 1860 Ghirardelli purchased a building in Stockton,
extending his business ties to a general merchandise store. Three
years later he continued his investments with the purchase and
building of yet another store and hotel.
The mid 1860's records the importing of 1,000 lbs
of cocoa to Ghirardelli Chocolate while the company featured the
first commercial sale of Broma in the year 1867. That same year,
after completing his education in Italy and Santa Clara College,
Domingo Ghirardelli Jr. recognized his father's vision and entered
the firm as a clerk.
By 1870, Domingo Ghirardelli and his partner Angelo
Mangini had spread themselves too thin and were forced to file
joint petition for bankruptcy. All personal assets were seized
and sold at auction. Ghirardelli continued with his other businesses
in the area, saving the company by sacrificing his personal holdings.
By 1877 sons Joseph and Louis had joined their father and brother
Domingo Jr., and with the help of their dedicated staffs, got
the family business rolling again. The new business was named
the "Pioneer Eagle Chocolate Manufactory," and stocked spices,
coffee, wines and liqueurs. Domingo made the decision to sell
the Stockton store and various other investments and holdings
in order to continue the evolution of what was to become "Ghirardelli
& Sons" in 1881. Domingo Ghirardelli & Sons grew to import 450,000
lbs of cocoa, employing 30 experienced workmen by 1885 and were
selling 50,000 lbs of their chocolate a year - their business
surviving much hardship.
Domingo Ghirardelli retired as head of the company
and turned the responsibility over to his sons in 1892. The sons
felt the need for more space and bought the Woolen Mill buildings
at public auction. William Mooser was commissioned again to design
the factory complex and buildings that make up Ghirardelli Square.
Although Domingo Ghirardelli died at the age of 77 in his homeland
of Rapallo, Italy in 1894, his family continued to manage the
company until 1963, when it was sold and relocated across the
San Francisco Bay to San Leandro. The company's chocolate is made
there to this day.
Plaque #4 - James Lick
Domingo Ghirardelli wasn't the only one who migrated
to Lima, Peru in the mid-19th century. Another of those drawn
to this adventurous and flourishing capital city was James Lick,
a master cabinetmaker who had been born in Pennsylvania. It was
in Peru that Ghirardelli established a confectionery business
next door to Lick's cabinet shop.
Lick left Lima for California in 1847, shortly before
the discovery of gold. Among the items he transported to the Golden
State was 600 pounds of Ghirardelli's chocolate.
Once settled in the still sleepy town of San Francisco,
Lick began shrewdly purchasing land. He also wrote to Ghirardelli,
telling him of the positive response his chocolate had received
and the world of opportunity this new frontier represented.
Lick established the Lick House, a renowned luxury
hotel and restaurant; he also continued acquiring considerable
amounts of valuable property in and around San Francisco. A great
philanthropist, Lick eventually donated much of his land and funds
to local causes, one of which is the Lick Observatory on nearby
Mt. Hamilton, home to what was once the world's largest telescope.
The origin of Lick's interest in building such a
telescope is somewhat of a mystery. Inspired by lectures on astronomy
and geology given by a young Portugese-American named George Madeira,
Lick invited Madeira to his ranch for a weekend. While observing
the stars through his telescope, Madeira is said to have exclaimed,
"Why, if I had your wealth, Mr. Lick, I would construct the largest
Irked to discover that he could not will his money
directly to the state for the construction of the observatory,
the aging Lick was forced to place his fortune in the hands of
a trust commissioned to carry out his wishes. After Lick's death
trustees signed a contract for 36-inch lenses with Alvan Clark
& Sons, who ordered the glass disks from Feil and Company of Paris.
The crown glass cracked during packing and only after 19 more
failures - at a cost that drove the company into bankruptcy -
was Feil and Company successful. The project was completed by
Alvan Clark & Sons and delivered safely to Mt. Hamilton on December
Eight years after its commencement the finest observatory
of its time was built, equipped and in operation.
Plaque #5 - The Bell Tower
It was in 1986 that Maas-Rowe Carillons, established
in California in 1922, installed a chime of 14 cast bronze bells
in Ghirardelli Square's Bell Tower. Ghirardelli has fourteen bells
presently and the capability of twenty-four. Played automatically
by a digital player, the bells themselves were cast at the John
Taylor & Company bell foundry in Loughborough, England.
Practicing its art since the 18th century, the Taylor
company has placed its bells in many of the world's most famous
towers, including the Bok Singing Tower in Lake Wales, Florida,
the Washington Cathedral in Washington D.C. and Yale University.
Cast from the highest quality metal, each bell is comprised of
roughly one-fourth tin and three-fourths copper; slight variations
in the percentages are part of the bell founder's art.
The largest musical instruments in the world, carillons
are a combination of at least two chromatic octaves of perfectly
tuned bells, attracting attention for centuries. The Ghirardelli
Bells are actually considered to be Chimes. A Chime consists of
a limited number of bells for the playing of single note melodies.
The repertroire can be greatly enlarged with each addition to
the number of bells until it attains the dignity of a carillon.
Chimes may be operated manually, electro-magnetically or electronically
using keyboards or automatic controls or tune playing equipment.
Included among over 8,000 United States churches,
colleges, universities and city halls in which Maas-Rowe has installed
its bell instruments, are the United States Naval and Coast Guard
Academies. Locally its instruments can also be heard at Mission
Dolores and the San Francisco Opera.
Plaque #6 - Mustard Business
The history of Ghirardelli's mustard business begins
with Domingo Ghirardelli's early influence by his apprenticeship
in Rapallo, Italy with a confectioner and importer of exotic spices.
It was most likely here that he became aware of its importance,
and learned how to make various kinds of mustard powders and pastes.
During his Gold Rush years and throughout the company's
nineteenth century growth, mustard and spices are continually
in evidence. But it was through the friendship that his son, Domingo
Jr., had with August Schilling that D. Ghirardelli & Co. originally
found itself in an important spice business. As Schilling did
not manufacture mustard as a company, it contracted with the Ghirardellis
to do so. While D. Ghirardelli & Co. sold dry mustard under its
own label, "The Pioneer Mustard Company," its paste was marketed
under the Schilling label. Even after Schilling was bought by
McCormick & Company in 1946, Ghirardelli continued to manufacture
The Mustard Building was constructed after the Ghirardelli
sons got the cocoa and chocolate manufactory moved and operational
in the current location, and was begun in 1899 and completed in
1911. Along with many other older buildings in Ghirardelli Square,
it was renovated and converted in 1964 for use as retail shops
Plaque #7 - Alcatraz Island
In 1775 our shores witnessed the arrival of Spanish
explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala who named Alcatraz Island "La Isla
de los Alcatraces" - The Island of the Pelicans. Since then it
has gained worldwide renown as "The Rock." the federal penitentiary
that for 30 years housed many of the most infamous, notorious
and incorrigible prisoners ever known.
But Alcatraz Island provided a valuable service
long before it became as famous as its inmates. In 1853 the U.S.
Army thought its location was perfect for defending the San Francisco
Bay and began building fortifications on Alcatraz. The first lighthouse
on the Pacific coast was erected on Alcatraz in 1854, just as
the Woolen Mill was reaching its height of production.
No enemy ever attacked the island, and in 1906 Alcatraz
was converted into the Army's Pacific Branch military prison,
where American soldiers sentenced to hard labor chipped rock,
constructed roadways and buildings, and transported soil from
neighboring Angel Island.
In 1933 the Army transferred Alcatraz to the newly-formed
Federal Bureau of Prisons, which redesigned the prison as a maximum
security facility to which non-reformable inmates from other federal
institutions were sent to be isolated. In addition to barbed wire,
guard towers and double-barred windows, prisoners were surrounded
by the cold, swift and shark-infested currents of the San Francisco
But life on the island was not enough to encourage
every inmate's cooperation. Those who were disruptive, assaulted
officers or broke property were confined to isolation cells for
every hour of every day. Boredom and loss of privileges were their
punishment; they left their cells once a week for a 10-minute
shower. Some were kept in total darkness, with bedding issued
only at night.
From 1934 to 1939 there was a "no talking" rule
which prohibited inmates from speaking to each other except when
outside. As a result they either used a Morse code-type of communication
they developed, or they would speak through the plumbing, whereby
they'd put their heads in the toilet bowls, cover them with a
blanket and speak through the pipes.
Among the more infamous inmates were Al Capone,
"Machine Gun" Kelly, Ma Barker's right-hand man "Creepy" Karpis,
and Robert "Birdman" Stroud. Thirty-six men tried to escape Alcatraz.
Although none is known to have succeeded, three inmates - Frank
Morris, John Anglin and brother Clarence Anglin - were never seen
again after they cleverly dug, climbed and crawled their way out
on June 11, 1962. Despite homemade flotation devices, it is believed
that they drowned in the chilly Bay waters, although they may
The cost of transporting food and supplies to the
island became prohibitive, and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy
closed the prison on March 21, 1963. Native American Indians,
citing an 1868 treaty, claimed and occupied Alcatraz from 1969
to 1971. In 1972 it was made part of the Golden Gate National
Recreation Area administered by the National Park Service, which
is trying to preserve the historic buildings while opening more
of the island for public use.
Plaque #8 - Shipping Industry
Around the time of the Gold Rush and before it was
filled in with land, the area that constitutes much of San Francisco's
waterfront was shallow, muddy flats. The loading and unloading
of people and commercial cargo was made easier with the construction
of a 2,000-foot long Central Wharf that extended into the deeper
waters of the Bay; near it were constructed shorter wharves.
When over-expansion and declining revenues led to
San Francisco's "Black Friday" collapse of 1855, the gold Rush
was officially over and the waterfront became a graveyard of abandoned
ships moored in the flats offshore. Soon landlocked, their seaworthy
hulls formed the sides of new buildings and the foundations for
Although not as busy and bustling as it once was,
the ports and piers of San Francisco continue to play an important
role in the city's history and commerce. They're located on a
waterfront that extends seven-and-one-half miles, from the Golden
Gate Bridge to Candlestick Point.
Along the way you'll find active cargo terminals,
dry docks, ferry service for commuters, cruise passenger terminals,
historic ships, pleasure boats, public fishing, shipping, dining,
and some of the most spectacular views of San Francisco Bay and
its surroundings. Whether you're a native or a visitor, they all
combine to create an experience worth repeating again and again.
Across the southern bay, tankers and deep-draft
ships are moored in a deeper anchorage area, where they await
the high tides that will ease their movement into shallower north
bay navigation channels. Oil tankers often elevate themselves
in the water by transferring portions of their loads to smaller
oil carriers, after which they can sail to the refineries located
in the north bay. Patient observers can watch ships moored in
the anchorage area rotate around their anchors as the tides change.
The Bay Area is the fourth largest economic region
in the U.S. Dredging of channels permits deep water ships to reach
new ports far inland like Stockton and Sacramento. Oakland is
a major container port.
While major import commodities include coffee, refrigerated
meat, rice, beer and high-tech items from Asia, major exports
include cotton, animal feed, fruits and nuts (much of which comes
from California's Central Valley.)
Plaque #9 - Marine Life of the
The Bay in front of Ghirardelli Square is filled
with a wealth of sea life and natural wonders.
While as many as 135 fish species have been identified
in the San Francisco Bay, among the more familiar are the Pacific
Herring, leopard shark and striped bass. Pacific herring migrate
through the Golden Gate during winter and early spring and deposit
their sticky eggs on seaweed and rocks around the Marin coastline,
Richardson Bay and Point San Pablo. They usually grow to no more
than 18 inches in length.
Despite its name and appearance, the leopard shark
is harmless; it's one of many shark species found in the Bay.
It has a dark gray body covered with black lines and spots, and
rarely grows to be more than six feet long.
Perhaps the most famous and recent Bay inhabitant
is the mammal sea lion. Known for its intelligence, playfulness
and noisy barking, it is attracted to the abundant food supply
and protected environment of the San Francisco Bay. Often seen
in zoos and aquariums, the adult male sea lion can weigh up to
1,000 pounds and reach seven feet in length. Females may weigh
up to 350 pounds and reach six feet. The male can also be distinguished
from the female by the crest (or bump) that develops on its head
at age five.
Today the San Francisco Bay covers 400 square miles,
most of which is less than 18 feet deep. There are three natural
forces responsible f or creating the Bay, its hills and beaches.
About 2.5 million years ago the Sacramento River,
which now originates north of Redding, California off of Mt Shasta,
flowed south and westward into a valley, which is now the Bay.
According to theory, it kept flowing through what is now the Golden
Gate and met the ocean a few miles west of the present shoreline.
The mountain chain that meets the ocean along most
of the California coast was created by shifting faults in the
state's unstable land. As the faults pushed the coast range up,
they buckled the land from north and south, further defining the
Sacramento Valley, which would become the bed for the Bay.
As more than half the earth's ice has melted in
the last 25,000 years, the sea level has gradually risen and,
as it did, the ocean infiltrated the existing valley and created
the San Francisco Bay.
Plaque #10 - Old San Francisco
There was no Golden Gate Bridge. There was no Alcatraz
Island. And there was no Ghirardelli Square.
At first, San Francisco was an unfriendly, unexplored
area of scrub land inhabited only by Coastanoan Indians. The Spanish
claimed the territories of "Alta California" for their own in
the 17th century; in 1775 a Spanish supply vessel commanded by
Lt Juan Manuel de Ayala entered the Bay. He returned to San Blas
with stories of a bay filled with black-brown otters and a harbor
large enough to hold all the fleets of the world. In no time the
Spanish made San Francisco's Black Point the site of their Presidio
(located on the shores just north of Ghirardelli Square.)
San Francisco remained under Spanish and then Mexican
flags for the next 70 years; for 13 years the Presidio was Mexico's
major outpost in northern California. In 1846 unruly and impatient
North Bay frontiersmen staged the Bear Flag Revolt. War between
the US and Mexico quickly followed, and in six months Captain
John Montgomery of the US Navy occupied the Bay.
The 1849 Gold Rush swelled the City's population
from 900 to more than 50,000 in the space of just two years. On
May 4, 1851 the anniversary of the City's second great fire was
marked by the City's fifth great fire. Supposedly fireproof brick
walls that had been built in the previous year crumbled in pieces
before the furious flames. When the iron shutters and doors that
complemented the brick walls expanded in the fire's heat, building
after building became nothing but a furnace that trapped those
The business district was destroyed, including
Domingo Ghirardelli's grocery at Broadway and Battery Streets.
Damage was moderately estimated at between $10 and $12 million.
Six months later Ghirardelli opened his Cairo Coffee Company on
The next disaster to strike the City was the 1906
earthquake and fire, caused by the San Andreas Fault; the San
Andreas skirts the city along its western shores before rejoining
the mainland north in Marin County. Fortunately, Ghirardelli's
factory on North Point Street suffered no damage. In fact, the
San Francisco Chronicle of April 29, 1906 carried the following
announcement: "To Grocers and Confectioners. Our stock is uninjured
and perfectly sound. We can supply you with our Chocolate and
Cocoa. We will resume manufacturing operations within Ten Days.
D Ghirardelli Company."
Plaque #11 - The Golden Gate
and Bay Bridges
Built during the Great Depression, both the Golden
Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge were erected to relieve a ferry
business that was transporting 50 million people a year by the
late 1920s, including the Oakland-based Ghirardelli family; the
San Francisco Ferry Building was the busiest transit station in
The shores of Ghirardelli Square witnessed construction
on the Golden Gate Bridge which began in January, 1933 and it
was, by all accounts, grueling. Working at such heights required
courage and athleticism, the engineering had to be flawless, and
foundations for the towers - which at 746 feet are 191 feet taller
than the Washington Monument - had to be sunk in the narrow and
turbulent Golden Gate strait.
Two "fenders" the size of football fields were constructed
to protect the towers from the forceful waters. Enough steel and
wire to circle the earth three times was used to support the roadway,
which is 220 feet above the ocean; each of the giant supporting
cables measures 36.5 inches in diameter and is made up of 27,512
Despite the tragedy that struck in February, 1937,
when a scaffold gave way and 10 men fell to their deaths, the
bridge opened to pedestrian traffic three months later on May
27. Total cost was $35 million, and for 25 years following its
completion it stood as the longest single span in the world.
The bridge is designed to move up to 54 feet horizontally
and 16 feet vertically. Despite its name, weather tests proved
International Orange to be the best color to paint it. (Paint
companies now use the area to test the durability of new colors.)
By 1994, the Golden Gate Bridge was crossed by nearly 60,000 cars
Construction on the Bay Bridge also started in 1933,
beginning with a simple cantilever bridge that was erected between
Oakland and Yerba Buena Island.
A tunnel 76 feet high and 58 feet wide - the largest
diameter tunnel in the world - was then dug through the island.
A suspension bridge was built between Yerba Buena and Rincon Hill
in San Francisco, anchored by a 400-foot tall pier that used more
concrete than the Empire State Building. As the San Francisco
Bay was the deepest body of water every spanned, the pier's foundations
were sunk through the mud and down to the bedrock beneath.
Once the foundations were in place, the building
of the four 500-foot towers and the double-tiered roadways could
begin. In November of 1936, less than three-and-a-half years after
construction began, the Bay Bridge was completed. Its cost was
$80 million, at that time the most ever spent on a single structure.
Approximately 250,000 cars crossed it every day by 1994.
Plaque #12 - Fog & Microclimates
Located on the northern end of a narrow peninsula
that separates San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco
is seven miles wide, seven miles long, and surrounded on three
sides by cool bodies of water. Its climate is classified as Mediterranean,
a climate which appealed to the Italian-born Domingo Ghirardelli,
and is typical of the region bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
It's characterized by mild temperatures, dry summers and wet winters;
roughly 80 percent of its rain falls from November through March.
(Snow has fallen in measurable amounts only three times this century.)
The most notable feature of San Francisco's climate
is the fog, a part of life in the City which contributes to the
appealing atmosphere of Ghirardelli Square. It is most common
during the summertime, when a phenomenon called 'up welling' brings
colder water from the ocean's bottom up to the surface. The prevailing
westerly winds bring the warmer, more humid air over the cooler
water near the coast, creating moisture that condenses to form
fog. The fog is then drawn inland by the breezes and the hot air
that covers California's Central Valley.
The complex topography of San Francisco creates
different patterns of fog and significant temperature variability.
Once desolate and windy, the land on which San Francisco is built
bears little resemblance to the terrain of 4,000 to 5,000 years
ago. When sand eroded form the coastal cliffs to the south, it
was carried by currents to San Francisco's long beach, where persistent
westerly winds blew it across the upper peninsula. For ages the
sand piled up, stretching more than six miles from Ocean Beach
on the Pacific to the San Francisco Bay; some drifts crested at
600 feet. Much of the Sunset and Richmond Districts in the western
part of the city would be hilly if their contours weren't leveled
City Hall, which is five miles from the coast, was
built on 80 feet of sand. And were it not for the windbreak created
when Golden Gate Park was built in the 1870's the winds and sand
would still be at work burying San Francisco. Ghirardelli Square's
place on the waterfront might well be affected were it not for
this natural phenomenon.
Although author Mark Twain is credited with saying
that "the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco,"
a sweater is usually sufficient - and advisable - most of the
year. One a typical summer afternoon today the downtown area will
be bathed in sunshine and temperatures near 70 while just a few
blocks to the west it will be overcast with temperatures in the
One of the most beautiful times of the year for
residents of the bay area is the holiday season where cool crisp
air brings out old-fashioned feelings and Ghirardelli Square's
old brick buildings come alive with thousand of lights glowing
in the misty fog. Other seasons of note are spring, which as early
as February brings flowering trees and bulbs into view at the
Square. And then the most quintessentially "San Francisco weather"
of all arrives in the days of September and October. In this season
the days are warm the nights are cool and the Bay is a sailor's
Plaque #13 - Woolen Mill Building
The oldest structure in Ghirardelli Square the Woolen
Mill was founded by merchants Heynemann, Pick & Co. in response
to the increased production of wool on the west coast. Messrs.
Heynemann and Pick reasoned that San Francisco was an ideal location
for the export of woolen products, and that their factory could
produce higher quality goods less expensively.
Originally built in 1858, the aptly named Pioneer
Woolen Mill was the first woolen mil in California, beginning
the state's shift in economic development from raw material extraction
to manufacturing. With four sets of cards and 16 looms, it was
burned the ground 1861. Late that same year construction began
on the structure you see today, which commenced operations in
June, 1862 with machinery for nine sets of cards, 31 looms and
One of the first factories in California, it helped
introduce industrialization to the region. For some time almost
its entire capacity was consumed on the west coast The Mill's
flannel was superior to that made on the east coast; 50 to 60
sewing machines were kept in constant operation for the purpose
of sewing shirts.
The superior quality of its blankets soon found
the Pioneer Woolen Mill filling orders for the American army and
several armies in Europe. During the Civil War its production
as almost exclusively dedicated to the demand for blankets, flannels
and uniforms used and worn by the Union troops. At that time its
800 employees - 500 whites and 300 Chinese - were a reflection
of the labor pool in California.
Having absorbed the Mission Mills and taken machinery
from Pacific Mills, annual production increased to at least 30,000
pairs of blankets, flannels of all kinds , robes and ladies' cloakings.
At its peak the Mill was consuming 3.5 million pounds of wool
and 1000,000 pounds of cotton as raw material. In 1888 total sales
reached $1,150,000. But by 1889 it had lost many of its government
contracts and was losing money. In a letter to shareholders, company
President Heynemann announced the unravelling of the mill. He
accepted the blame for the loss of confidence in the mill's production
and tendered his resignation; the mill was forced to close.
In 1893 the Pioneer Woolen Mill and the square block
it occupied - along with a wooden box factory (now the site of
the Wurster Building) and a row of wooden houses along North Point
Street that housed mill workers and their families - were sold
at an auction to Domingo Ghirardelli's sons, who converted the
mill into a chocolate factory.
Plaque #14 - Fisherman's Wharf
Similar to Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf
is virtually synonymous with San Francisco and is home to some
of the City's most famous restaurants. Over 87 percent of all
visitors to the City go to the Wharf. But it wasn't always known
by that name.
The Pomo Indians were the first to fish here; they
fished for crab and shrimp prior to the arrival of the Chinese
in the mid-1800s. (The Chinese were the only ones who were taxed
to fish.) In the late 1800s the San Francisco Bay was fished primarily
by Italians, who also fished along the coast from Half Moon Bay
to Fort Bragg. Their fleet consisted of lateen-rigged "feluccas";
in 1890 there were over 1,000 feluccas docked at Fisherman's Wharf.
And men were often joined on their fishing expeditions by women.
From 1880 to 1936 the wharf was known as Italy Harbor.
Much of the area was actually occupied by lumber yards, which
were later replaced by canneries, built to process the fruit brought
in through Pier 45. The Del Monte Company once occupied the buildings
now known as The Cannery.
In 1936 journalists began writing about a local
baseball legend named Joe D'Maggio, who was the son of a fisherman
and a resident of North Beach, the adjacent and Italian sections
of San Francisco. They began referring to the wharf area as "Fisherman's
Wharf," and the name stuck.
There are actually two lagoons at Fisherman's Wharf.
The inner lagoon, which dates back to 1894 and is visible from
Jefferson Street, is primarily used by sports fishing vessels.
The outer lagoon, located next to Pier 45, is used by the commercial
fishing industry. (Partially built on landfill, Pier 45 was severely
damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, requiring $13
million in repairs.) All told, the Wharf is home to 150 permanent
In the 1990s about 40 million pounds of fish valued
at more than $20 million come into the ports around San Francisco
Bay, half of which comes into the Port of San Francisco. Every
fisherman at sea produces eight on-shore jobs.
The herring roe fishery ranks as the largest in
the Bay (Exceeding salmon, Dungeness crab, rock cod and sole)
with annual revenues near $11 million; herring is also the major
export, in particular to the Japanese market. In November and
December people work day and night to catch and off load the fish,
and you can often hear the pumps running as the fishing boats
are unloaded. Other local fish include crab, salmon, squid, abalone,
link, mackerel and halibut.
Plaque #15 - Early Transportation
They are as much a part of San Francisco as sourdough
bread and shrimp cocktails. Yet despite their popularity, or perhaps
because of it, they are part of the only cable car system in the
Andrew Hallidie, who actually manufactured wire
rope, invented the cable car in 1873 as a replacement for horse-drawn
cars, which were expensive to care for, had difficulty maneuvering
on the hills, and left literally tons of manure in their wake.
Hallidie's company, The California Wire Works, occupied
an entire city block in what is now the Fisherman's Wharf area.
Hallidie's cable cars were a big success, enabling their riders
to safely negotiate steep hills. By 1890 San Francisco was home
to eight cable car companies which collectively operated 600 cars
over 100 miles of track. They were subsequently successfully introduced
in other cities in America, as well as London and Sydney.
The cable cars have neither engines nor motors.
They are powered by an endless underground moving cable - kept
in motion by gigantic wheels housed in "barns" - onto which the
cable cars grip, similar in principle to a rope tow used by skiers.
To stop the cable car, the grip is released. The cables move constantly
at 9.5 miles per hour.
While cars and electric lines have rendered cable
cars obselete everywhere else, today there are 44 cable cars in
San Francisco; on a typical day 27 are in operation. There are
three "lines" in the city. The cables for these lines, which are
continuous loops of wire rope, range in length from 9,050 feet
to 21,500 feet - over four miles. Due to the constant gripping
and ungripping of the cars, the cables have a relatively short
life: Each must be completely replaced every 75 to 250 days.
Beyond being a great source of civic pride and
the star of innumerable television commercials, San Francisco's
cable cars were designated the national's only mobile historical
landmark in 1964. But just as important as getting around in the
City was getting to the City. Prior to the building of the Golden
Gate and Bay Bridges the San Francisco Ferry Terminal was the
second busiest in the world - only London's Charing Cross Station
facilitated more people. One hundred thousand commuters embarked
from eight docking slips each working day. There were 170 arrivals
and departures a day, servicing various ports in the Bay and the
Sacramento Delta. The fare for a ferry between San Francisco and
Oakland? Only 10 cents. Cable cars and Ghirardelli Square: synonymous
with San Francisco history.
Plaque #16 - Angel Island
The largest in San Francisco Bay, Angel Island covers
just over one square mile. Its history is perhaps as storied as
any place in the region, and has displayed a wealth of visual
history of the shores of Ghirardelli Square.
It was first occupied by Miwok Indians some 2,000
years ago, who used the island for fishing and hunting.
In August of 1775 Juan Manuel de Ayala, who is
credited with naming many other nearby lands, anchored his ship,
the San Carlos, in what is now known as Ayala Cove. Subsequently,
the island has served many people and purposes. In the late 1700s
and early 1800s it was the source of freshwater and firewood during
the peak years of the whaling trade. Russian sea otter hunters
camped and stored furs there. It was home to a Mexican cattle
ranch. And in the mid-1800's it served as a dueling spot for settling
"affairs of honor," sometimes witnessed by a thousand people.
Angel Island's utility would eventually prove even
more diverse. During the 1870s a recession, unemployment and a
general intolerance of foreigners gave rise to anti-Chinese secret
societies and racist legislation at all levels. Consequently,
many U.S. Resident Chinese were deported; t hose who could prove
citizenship through paternal lineage weren't denied entry. Those
without true U.S. fathers became "paper sons" and "paper daughters"
by buying papers identifying them as children of American citizens.
The 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed many of the
records verifying citizenship; many Chinese living in San Francisco
were then able to claim citizenship, although the Bureau of Immigration
(then in waterfront warehouses) detained all working-class Chinese
immigrants for interrogation. If the detainee's answers didn't
match the father's, he or she was ordered deported. (About 10
percent of those detained were deported.)
Angel Island, on which an immigration station had
been completed in 1910, was where many of Chinese descents awaited
their fate, housed in cold and drafty barracks that separated
the men from the women and children. Their anger, loneliness and
homesickness was often expressed in poetry carved or written on
Although the immigration station was also designed
to handle the flood of European immigrants who were expected to
begin arriving once the Panama Canal was open, the outbreak of
World War I delayed their arrival. Asian Immigrants continued
to arrive on the west coast, however. (The first Chinese had arrived
in 1848, lured by the promise of gold.)
Angel Island's location also proved popular to the
U.S. Army, which thought it a valuable site from which to defend
the west coast. Although the Army lowered the flat at Fort McDowell
for the last time in 1946, it returned several years later to
establish a Nike underground missile base, which cased operations
in 1962 when the missiles became obselete.
In December of 1962 virtually the entire island
was turned over to the state for park purposes (with the exception
of a seven-acre Coast Guard station which is still active). In
1970 it was dedicated as a State Historical Landmark.
Open to the public and accessible by ferry, Angel
Island today is home to a diverse animal and bird population.
Plaque #17 - Maritime Museum
Built during the Great Depression as a public bath
house, the Maritime Museum has occupied this building since 1951.
A national historic park administered by the National Park Service,
it's open to the public and captures the romance and excitement
of west coast seafaring. On display are tools, mast sections and
Unique artifacts and historic photographs capture
the excitement of the California Gold Rush and the west coast
whaling industry. In the Steamship Room displays and models chronicle
steam technology from the tiny "mail packet" steamers to giant
cargo vessels. And the Harmon Gallery highlights the days of exploration
and expansion on the west coast.
For visitors who wish to explore the real thing,
there are several ships berthed just two blocks south at the Hyde
Street Pier, including the Eppleton Hall (reminiscent of the paddle
tugs that towed ships into the San Francisco Bay during the gold
rush), the Eureka (a side wheel ferry built in 1890 and used to
shuttle passengers and autos across the Bay), and the Balclutha
(a square-rigged Cape Horn sailing vessel launched from Scotland
Three blocks farther south at Pier 45 you'll find
the USS Pampanito, a restored Navy fleet submarine designed for
long-range cruises in the Pacific during World War II, when she
sank six Japanese ships and damaged four others. Named after the
fish, the Pampanito is 312 feet long and 27 feet wide. It was
home to 10 officers and 70 enlisted crewmen, each of whom volunteered
to live and work in the tight quarters and hazardous conditions
in exchange for an additional $20 per month pay. Unlike life on
today's submarines, which are much larger and feature amenities
such as CD players and VCRs, life on the Pampanito was fairly
monotonous. While one crew member worked, another slept in his
bunk. Laundry was cranked through wringer and then dried on top
of the submarine's hot engines. Although they could store enough
food for a 90-day tour, it wasn't much good after 50.
Entertainment was limited, often found in USO dances
held at various ports of call. Since the men drank lumpy dehydrated
milk when on board, the first thing many would do when ashore
was look for ice cream, fresh fruit and milk.
The USS Pampanito has been anchored at Pier 45 since
1982. In December, 1988 stormy weather caused her to drag her
anchors and hit the pier. Although she obviously survived, she
suffered more damage in a few hours of stormy weather than she
incurred in all of World War II.
Plaque #18 - unavailable
Plaque #19 - Cocoa Grinder
Consisting of a large cast iron vat and two millstones,
this inoperable cocoa grinder was originally used in the Ghirardelli
Manufactory located on Jackson Street. After the cocoa beans were
roasted, they were moved into the milling room, where several
grinders such as this one were located. Once dumped into a grinder,
the beans were ground into a liquid the consistency of molasses.
The liquid was then poured into pans, where it solidified
over a 24-hour period. The hardened "cakes" were then broken,
sugar was kneaded in and flavoring was added. (In plain chocolate
the sugar is omitted). The chocolate was then ready for weighing,
shaping and stamping.
The liquid could also be pressed, separating it
into cocoa solids and cocoa butter for other uses.
Although nobody knows exactly who was responsible,
in the mid-1860s it was discovered that when a bag of chocolate
was hung in a very warm room the cocoa butter would drip out.
The remaining residue could then be crushed into ground chocolate,
a powder named "broma." This was known as the "Broma Process,"
and broma became the featured product of the Pioneer Eagle Chocolate
Manufactory, the name Domingo Ghirardelli briefly gave the company.
Prior to 1492, the Old World knew nothing about
the flavor that was to become the favorite of millions. It was
during this conquest of Mexico that Cortez found the Aztec Indians
using cocoa beans in the preparation of the royal drink "chocolatl"
In 15919? Emperor Montezuma treated it like ambrosia for the gods,
serving chocolatl to his Spanish guests in golden goblets.
Today the Ghirardelli Chocolate factory, which was
built across the bay in San Leandro in 1963, produces 40,000 pounds
of pure chocolate a year by combining the yield from 14,000 cocoa
bean trees, which are grown in South America, with 29 million
pounds of milk, the total production of 1,500 cows. The company
produces annually enough chocolate chips to create a stack that,
piled one on top of another, would reach from here to the moon.
Plaque #20 - The Wurster Building
In 1893 Domingo Ghirardelli's sons purchased at
auction the Pioneer Woolen Mill, which had become insolvent and
ceased operations in 1889. They intended the mill - and the square
block it occupied - as the site for their chocolate factory. Included
in the property were the four-story brick mill building, a wooden
box factory and a row of wooden houses along North Point street
which , at one time, had housed the mill's workers and their families.
There were also stables for wagons and horses.
The mill was immediately converted for use as a
cocoa factory. Meanwhile, the Ghirardelli's commissioned San Francisco's
first architect, William Mooser, to create a complex for their
chocolate and mustard businesses. Although Mooser spared the box
factory, he moved it diagonally from the corner of North Point
and Polk to the corner of Larkin and Beach streets.
This was the site of the box factory, where wooden
parking crates and corrugated cardboard boxes were assembled in
which to transport the products. Chocolate was shipped in 50-pound
crates, the sides of which were branded with "Ghirardelli." Because
it represented a tremendous fire hazard, it was isolated form
the other buildings.
A simple but elegant wooden building, the removal
of the box factory was necessitated by changing building regulations;
fire codes and other ordinances made its restoration infeasible.
In its place was constructed the Wurster Building, named after
its architect, William Wilson Wurster. Wurster's firm had also
been chosen by Bill Roth to convert and adapt the majority of
Ghirardelli Square's buildings.
The Wurster building was the largest of Ghirardelli
Square's new structures, its 24,000 square feet of floor area
devoted to shops and restaurants. While the easterly part of the
building was completed in 1964, the westerly portion was completed
As it turned out, Ghirardelli Square was to be Wurster's
last important work. His elegant style is most clearly evident
in the perfectly proportioned bays on the north side of the Wurster
Building (facing the San Francisco Bay). With its repeated bay
window rhythm, this glass and metal wall is both modern and traditionally
San Francisco. It's no coincidence that the Wurster Building -
with its views from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge to
the waterfront - is among the most popular in Ghirardelli Square.
Plaque #21 - The Powerhouse
Plaque #22 - The Goldrush Era
It was at John Sutter's sawmill on the American
River in Coloma, California (outside Sacramento) on January 24,
1848 that California became the land of gold. On that day James
Marshall made his momentous discovery of the precious metal. And
as news of the California Gold Rush spread, the world looked on
as San Francisco quickly grew from a shanty town of tents to a
Life on the Pacific coats had been leisurely. San
Francisco was as unprepared for the inundation that would follow
Marshall's discovery as any outpost could have been. Rumors of
gold and riches spread like wildfire, attracting more than a handful
of hopeful prospectors. President James Polk's confirmation of
the Gold Rush in his State of the Union address late in 1848 made
it official. From Europe, Asia and South America they came: 42,000
by land and another 40,000 by sea.
A port that once accommodated one or two ships a
year quickly became harbor to more than 300, many of which were
abandoned on the waterfront's shallow shores by impatient miners
anxious to strike gold. (Ironically, all of John Sutter's hired
hands left to find their fortunes. His land was overrun by prospectors
and he was left in financial ruin.)
When he arrived in San Francisco from Peru in 1849
Domingo Ghirardelli's destination was also the mines of the Mother
Lode. He headed for the Jamestown-Sonora area, about 100 miles
east of San Francisco. Although he spoke little English, he would
find Italian, Spanish and French-speaking companions in that area.
He did not, however, find much gold. Soon he directed
his efforts toward the mercantile business, opening his first
general store in Stockton, the town nearest the mines. From the
cover of his canvas tent he supplied the growing number of miners
with coffee, chocolate, liqueurs, mustard and spices. Competition
and the increasing demands from miners forced Ghirardelli to expand;
he began regularly purchasing supplies from the ports of San Francisco.
Soon Domingo opened Ghirardelli Grocery on the corner
of Broadway and Battery Streets in San Francisco. This served
as a supply base for his "French Soda Fountain," as his business
in Stockton came to be called. It also put Ghirardelli at the
heart of San Francisco's Gold Rush boom district.
The spectacular profits of '49 eventually dropped
off. The flow of gold slowed to a trickle. Faced with 1853's winter
rains and freezing temperatures, many miners fled the hills and
headed for Nevada's Comstock Lode and the newly opened copper
mines of Arizona. The prospectors that had rushed in left a half-finished
boom town and 50,000 people with few established means of livelihood.
Over-expansion and declining revenues led to San Francisco's "Black
Friday" collapse in 1855 and the end of the Gold Rush era.
Plaque #23 - Ghirardelli Square's
As complex and storied as it is, the history of
Ghirardelli Square could arguably be condensed to three time periods,
two men, and one place, all of which played vital and invaluable
roles in the development and history of San Francisco.
The first time period began in 1849 when Domingo
Ghirardelli, a native-born Italian who had owned and operated
confection business in Peru, arrived in San Francisco at the outset
of the Gold Rush era. Unable to find the "gold in them thar' hills,"
he opened a small store in nearby Stockton, using San Francisco
as a supply base.
In 1852 the Domingo Ghirardelli Company was founded
in San Francisco at Kearny and Washington Streets, selling candy,
syrup, coffee, pastes, fruit and pastries. Six years later the
Pioneer Woolen Mill, which would eventually supply the Union Army
with much of its uniforms and blankets, would be erected right
here, where it still stands.
In 1889, lack of business forced the Pioneer Woolen
Mill to close. Four years later Ghirardelli's sons bought the
mill at an auction and moved the company's chocolate factory to
the site; this marked the beginning of the second stage of the
Square's history. Although Domingo died in 1894 at the age of
77, his sons continued in their father's footsteps, adding to
the business and the property by building a new Chocolate Building,
Cocoa Building, Mustard Building, Clock Tower and Box Factory,
among other structures.
In 1963 the third stage began when the Ghirardelli
family sold the chocolate business to Golden Grain Macaroni Company,
who moved the manufacturing plant across the Bay to its present
location in San Leandro. At the same time, the square block of
property previously occupied by the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
was put up for sale.
The second major player in the Square's chronicle
was William M Roth. With his mother Mrs William P Roth they purchased
the Ghirardelli factory for $2.5 million in 1963. Guided by the
early vision of Karl Kortum, Roth who was concerned that historic
sites were being too quickly eliminated, wanted to restore and
convert the red brick complex to other uses.
The site offered spectacular view of the San Francisco
Bay and close proximity to the millions of visitors who came to
nearby Fisherman's Wharf. This originally led to thoughts about
a combination of retail shops, restaurants, housing and small
hotels. First and foremost Roth wanted to create a quality product
for San Francisco and its residents, a place that recalled European
cities such as Rome and Paris. He enlisted a group of people who
could help him realize his dreams, commissioning the distinguished
architectural firm Wurster, Bernardi and Emmons, Pasadena architect
John Mathias, and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.
Roth's' goal was to preserve part of the city's
history and heritage, to spare the Square from unsightly and unnecessary
commercial development. He wanted to preserve as many of Ghirardelli
Square's old buildings as possible while converting them and a
few new and smaller structures for use as retail shops, restaurants
and offices. Of the older structures only the Box Factory was
removed, replaced with the Wurster Building.
In 1965 Ghirardelli Square was declared an official
city landmark; in 1982 it was granted a place on the National
Historic Register. 1982 was also the year the Roths sold Ghirardelli
Square to its current owners. Today, in addition to its unique
variety of retail shops, galleries and restaurants, it is home
to a number of professional businesses. IT has become and remains
a favorite destination of natives and visitors alike.
Plaque #24 - Waterfront Preservation
The story of San Francisco's splendid waterfront
would not be complete without including Karl Kortum, the man who,
by himself and with others, has done more to insure its restoration
than any other individual or group.
He had retired to the family farm in Petaluma where
he was writing a book about his voyage around South America's
Cape Horn, a dream come true for Kortum. But it wasn't until he
took a Hyde Street cable car ride in San Francisco in 1949 that
his real life's work became apparent.
"It was a sunny afternoon and I got off outside
the Buena Vista," he later remembered. "I'm a photographer and
I notice the play of light on surfaces. The light was shining
on the side of the old Haslett warehouse; it was very handsome.
So I looked around me and saw the L-shaped row of old red-brick
factory buildings." It was on this day that he thought of his
plan for the northern waterfront.
He envisioned creating a maritime museum at the
Aquatic Park Casino, with a square rigger and schooners to be
restored and anchored in the nearby lagoon. He saw the Hyde Street
cable car extending into a Victorian Park. He saw the Haslett
Warehouse as a railroad museum. To a certain extent his vision
also included the block that housed Ghirardelli Square.
Kortum believed that when you wanted something done
the first step was to get the press in your corner - official
support would follow naturally. So he enlisted the help of a new
friend, an editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, Scott Newhall,
brother of one of Kortum's Cape Horn shipmates.
Newhall called a luncheon at the City's Bohemian
Club with the publishers of San Francisco's other three papers
(there were then four). It was September of 1949, exactly 100
years after the City's first boom, and they - along with Mayor
Robinson - all endorsed it.
Together with Newhall, the papers, the mayor and
a non-profit citizen's committee, "Project X" was completed and
Kortum's vision was almost completely realized by 1961.
But Kortum was still trying to protect the antiquated
area from land owners and developers who wanted to capitalize
on its value. He remembered reading that the University of California
was short of real estate, and it occurred to him that the soon-to-be
vacated Ghirardelli block might work well for such a purpose.
He presented his idea to William Roth, a long-time San Francisco
and shipping scion who had recently been appointed to the UC Board
Six months later Kortum received what he considered
"probably the best phone call in my life." It was Roth's real
estate chamberlain, who said "Bill has decided to buy the property.
Do you have any idea what he can do with it?" And thus began the
preservation of what was soon to become Ghirardelli Square.
Plaque #25 - Andrea's Fountain
Then-owner William Roth selected Ruth Asawa, well
known for her abstract, woven-wire sculptures, to design and create
the centerpiece fountain for Ghirardelli Square. Although it was
unveiled amid some controversy in 1968, Asawa's objective was
to make a sculpture that could be enjoyed by everyone. She spent
one year thinking about the design and another year sculpting
it from a live model and casting it in bronze.
Although landscape architect Lawrence Halprin attacked
Asawa's design of a nursing mermaid seated on a sea turtle for
not being a "serious" work, Asawa's intentions were clear: "For
the old it would bring back the fantasy of their childhood, and
for the young it would give them something to remember when they
"I wanted to make something related to the sea.
I thought of all the children , and maybe even some adults, who
would stand by the seashore waiting for a turtle or a mermaid
to appear. As you look at the sculpture you include the Bay view
which was saved for all of us, and you wonder what lies below
The most photographed feature of Ghirardelli Square,
the fountain was named in honor of Andrea Jepson, the woman who
served as the model for the mermaid.
Plaque #26 - The Apartment Building
Originally built in 1916 to house two identical
flats for the plant's day manager and night watchman and their
families, this building was converted into a restaurant in 1964.
On the ground floor of its Larkin Street side an entrance to the
underground parking garage was sensitively built between the flat's
original entrances, where the garage doors were.
Although it shares the same style as other Ghirardelli
Square buildings, the Apartment Building and the adjacent Clock
Tower do not feature battlements (the parapets built on tops of
walls for defense or decoration). Today, with enlarged windows
and doorways, it's occupied by one of Ghirardelli Square's many
William Roth, who, along with his mother and the
civic-minded Heller family, bought Ghirardelli Square in 1963,
realized the potential the Square had: "I feel that the mixture
of old and new is very important. I go back to the kind of use
and re-use that European cities such as Rome and Paris have made
of their buildings where you get a historical layering that I
think is interesting, and that speaks to the continuity of the
city architecturally and yet is contemporary too."
The Apartment Building is yet another of Ghirardelli
Square's buildings that is included in the National Register of
Plaque #27 - Cocoa & Chocolate
An architecturally important example of a "model
factory," Ghirardelli Square includes an array of buildings, most
of which were designed by master San Francisco architect William
Mooser and constructed between 1900 and 1923. Mooser's father
was the architect of the original Pioneer Woolen Mill, which is
the oldest structure in the Square.
Built by the D Ghirardelli Co in 1900 as a cocoa
warehouse (two stories were added in 1922), the Cocoa Building
is where sacks of cocoa beans were unloaded from horse-drawn wagons
that had come from the piers. (Beans are grown in countries that
are within 20 degrees of the equator.) The beans were stored in
the warehouse, where they were then cleaned and loaded into huge
roasters which s pun like washing machines.
After roasting, the beans were removed and taken
to the milling room. There they were cracked, shelled and put
into heated and serrated granite or steel wheels, which ground
them into a liquid (they're 50 percent cocoa butter) that is held
in heated tanks, to be used in any number of cocoa products.
Many of those products were produced in the Chocolate
Building, which was built in 1911 (the top floor of the Chocolate
Building was added in 1919.) After removing much of the cocoa
butter, the remaining cocoa was ground into a powder. To make
a milk chocolate, for example, the butter and cocoa were then
mixed with other ingredients such as sugar and powdered milk.
This mixture was then subjected to a series of processes before
being pumped into stainless steel molds, which were chilled in
a cooling tunnel before being tipped over and packaged.
When he took over as general partner in 1963 William
Roth asked William Wurster, who was responsible for the renovation
of most buildings in Ghirardelli Square, if he would also bring
Pasadena architect John Mathias aboard. Mathias had redone an
old Sausalito house for the Roths, and Roth's idea was to have
him design small pavilion buildings that would define the three
major public spaces within the Square.
In contrast to the solid, old factory, these interior
buildings were to be light, modern and airy. Mathias looked at
the space in the center of the Square as a room and he wanted
his small buildings to function as furniture. Among his more whimsical
buildings are the octagonal-roofed carousel building and the small
glass cupola that divides the Square into two halves.
In 1968 both the Cocoa Building and the Chocolate
Building were converted into shops, restaurants and offices.
Plaque #28 - The Landmark Sign
In 1915 a huge electric sign was mounted atop the
chocolate factory, measuring 25 feet high and 165 feet long. One
of the most handsome all giant signs, it originally featured two
faces: one looked toward the ship traffic, the other faced the
Russian Hill section of the city.
During World War II it had to be turned off for
blackouts. It remained off until 1964, when the side facing the
San Francisco Bay was restored and turned on with the opening
of Ghirardelli Square.
An early and avid user of mass advertising, Ghirardelli
also used large billboards with attractive commercial art up and
down the west coast. A long-running campaign featured a parrot
who, in an attempt to help it with the difficult pronunciation,
taught the public to "Say Geer-ar-delli."
Plaque #29 - The Clock Tower
The finest and most elaborate building erected by
the D Ghirardelli Company was the Clock Tower, which is located
at the corner of North Point and Larkin Streets and served as
the company's office building. For 46 years it served as the company's
Modeled after elements from the Chateau at Blois
in France, which was designed by Francois Mansart between 1635
and 1638, this building was constructed in 1916; its brick and
steel-reinforced concrete construction replaced the wood frame
building the company had employed in earlier buildings. Well maintained,
it was cleaned, painted and converted into shops and offices in
1964 and still features four functioning clock faces. (The Chateau
at Blois featured windows on the floor occupied by the clock faces.)
It also houses the factory whistle, which blew not
only as a farewell salute to family members as they sailed past
on oceanliners heading out the Golden Gate, but also when ships
passed during World Wars I and II and the Korean War.
Featured over its two arched doorways are panels
inscribed "D Ghirardelli Co 1852-1916." The entrance vestibule
is paved with white tiles, into which is inset the eagle that
continues to serve as the company's trademark. Flanking the eagle
are two antique millstones from Domingo Ghirardelli's first manufactory.
In the basement of the Clock Tower is a collection
of pre-1920 manufacturing equipment which was moved from other
buildings and arranged in sequence to demonstrate how chocolate
was made. Included are gas-fired cocoa bean roasters, a cracker-fanner
(used to crack the beans and fan the husks), chocolate mills,
a melangeur and a couching machine.
Landscape architect Lawrence Halprin suggested
outlining the Clock Tower in small white lights during the conversion
period of 1964. What sounded offensive to some only turned out
to be a visual delight as a distinctive part of the San Francisco
skyline proved even more beautiful at night.
The Clock Tower is among several buildings in Ghirardelli
Square that have been nominated and selected for inclusion on
the National Register of Historic Places.
Plaque #30 - Ghirardelli Square
Gardens played a large part in Domingo Ghirardelli's
life, both at home and at his factory.
Although he originally lived in San Francisco, he
moved across the Bay to Oakland, where he and his family could
enjoy a house with a garden said to be among the largest in that
city. Between their house and garden, the Ghirardellis occupied
one square block with the house located in the center of it.
Being an Italian, Ghirardelli felt that his home
wouldn't be complete without something from his native land. In
1858 he sent for marble statuary - including statues, urns and
a fountain - from Italy, which were placed throughout the garden.
Statues of Columbus and Washington flanked either side of the
front steps. Fruit and vegetables were in the back, as was a large
summer house that was draped in pink rose vines and honeysuckle.
The garden was open to the public on weekends, during which time
his children played in the backyard.
White figs were Ghirardelli's specialty, and he
and his gardener would insert one drop of olive oil in each fig
when it almost ripe, believing that it made them sweet and delicious.
The factory here in San Francisco also featured a very Italian
garden, planted with hedges, flowers and olive trees.
When William Roth bought the property in 1962 and
began renovations, Lawrence Halprin was selected as landscape
architect. Halprin shared the same building as the architectural
firm of Wurster, Bernardi and Emmons, which had been chosen to
convert the older Ghirardelli buildings and to construct one major
new building, the Wurster Building.
Halprin sought to make things light, and his lamps,
benches and planters reflected that. Spindly railings were chosen
rather than heavy ones, the better to contrast with the chocolate
factory buildings. And trees with small, fine leaves - such as
Domingo Ghirardelli's beloved olive trees - were planted rather
than heavy-leafed trees. Beautiful and thoughtful details for
walks through History.