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The City's Most Unexpected Landmarks

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San Francisco is chock full of grand Victorians and epic feats of engineering, but some other more unexpected places are historic landmarks too. Whether on local, state, or national lists, these sites have their own special something making them landmark-worthy. Check out our map, and then leave us your favorite landmarks (official or not) in the comments.

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Camera Obscura

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National Register Listed: This camera obscura (which projects images through a pinhole in a dark room) was built in 1946 as an attraction for nearby Playland-at-the-Beach, and is one of only two in California (the other is in Santa Monica).

Albion Brewery

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City Landmark 60: With natural springs running beneath it, John Hamlin Burnell built the Albion Ale and Porter Brewing Company in 1870. After prohibition, the building fell into ruin until it was restored over 20 years in the 1930s and 40s. It sold for $820,000 in 2011.

Julius' Castle

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City Landmark 121: Julius' Castle on Telegraph Hill was designed to be a restaurant in 1898, and continued to operate until 2007. It was popular with Bay Area celebrities, like Huey Lewis, members of Journey, Robert Redford, Sean Connery, and Ginger Rogers.

Samuels Clock

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City Landmark 77: Clockmaker Albert Samuels commissioned a street clock in 1915 to sit in front of his watchmaker company in 1915. The clock stopped operating in 1990, but was restored in 2000.

Treasure Island

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California Landmark 987: All of Treasure Island is a state landmark, as an artificial island constructed in 1936 for the Golden Gate International Exposition. The "Magic City" featured tall towers, giant statues, and crazy lighting effects - until it was converted to a US Naval Station in 1941 and later sold to the city.

Condor Club

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Historical Point of Interest: All the plaque at the Condor Club says is "The birthplace of the world's first topless & bottomless entertainment." Enough said.

Lawn Bowling Clubhouse and Greens

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City Landmark 181: Lawnbowling may not seem like a landmark-worthy sport, but the Lawn Bowling Club in Golden Gate Park was founded back in 1901 and is known as the oldest lawn bowling club in the United States.

Earthquake Refugee Shack

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City Landmark 171: After the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, the City Corps of Engineers built 5,610 refugee cottages consisting of a couple rooms, a gas connection, and green paint (to better blend in the public parks and squares they were located) and leased to the homeless. This one is actually three cottages combined for one house, and one of the few remaining in existence.

Cadillac Hotel

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City Landmark 176: The Cadillac Hotel has some great Art Nouveau architecture, but is actually listed as a landmark for being the home of Newman's Gym, supposedly the oldest professional boxing facility in the United States. Nearly all of the greats in American boxing history trained or competed here.

Lotta Crabtree Fountain

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City Landmark 73 and National Register listed: Lotta Crabtree was a child singer and dancer in Gold Rush era California, becoming one of the 19th century's most famous entertainers. She commissioned her own fountain in 1875, and during the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, it became a meeting point for survivors.

Cable Cars

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National Historic Landmark: The cable cars, 10 miles of rails, the moving cable, and car-barn are all listed as a National Historic Landmark. The first track was laid in 1873, and San Francisco's system is the only one still in operation in the US.

Sarcophagus of Thomas Starr King

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California Landmark 691: Located on the grounds of the First Unitarian Church, the sarcophagus of Unitarian minister Thomas Starr King was one of the only grave sites allowed in city limits after the ban on burials. As a famous orator, he helped sway California to join the Union during the Civil War (Union Square is named for the pro-Union, abolitionist speeches that he delivered on that site).

Farnsworth's Green Street Lab

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California Landmark 941: Philo Taylor Farnsworth invented and patented the first operational all-electronic "television system" at his lab here in 1927. He was only 21 at the time - feel unaccomplished yet?

Dutch Windmill

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City Landmark 147: Constructed in 1902, the windmill was situated near the Pacific Ocean to capture the westerly winds and use the energy to pump water for Golden Gate Park's irrigation system. The Murphy Windmill was added in 1905.

Doggie Diner Sign

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City Landmark 254: The Doggie Diner restaurant at the corner of 46th Ave and Sloat featured a large sign designed in 1966. After the fast food chain went out of business, a grassroots effort saved the sign and now it sits on a post on Sloat Boulevard.

Tadich Grill

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City Landmark 145: The Tadich Grill is the oldest restaurant in California, founded in 1849 as the New World Coffee Stand. The location has moved a few times, settling at 240 California in 1967. The interior has not changed since the 1920s.

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Camera Obscura

National Register Listed: This camera obscura (which projects images through a pinhole in a dark room) was built in 1946 as an attraction for nearby Playland-at-the-Beach, and is one of only two in California (the other is in Santa Monica).

Albion Brewery

City Landmark 60: With natural springs running beneath it, John Hamlin Burnell built the Albion Ale and Porter Brewing Company in 1870. After prohibition, the building fell into ruin until it was restored over 20 years in the 1930s and 40s. It sold for $820,000 in 2011.

Julius' Castle

City Landmark 121: Julius' Castle on Telegraph Hill was designed to be a restaurant in 1898, and continued to operate until 2007. It was popular with Bay Area celebrities, like Huey Lewis, members of Journey, Robert Redford, Sean Connery, and Ginger Rogers.

Samuels Clock

City Landmark 77: Clockmaker Albert Samuels commissioned a street clock in 1915 to sit in front of his watchmaker company in 1915. The clock stopped operating in 1990, but was restored in 2000.

Treasure Island

California Landmark 987: All of Treasure Island is a state landmark, as an artificial island constructed in 1936 for the Golden Gate International Exposition. The "Magic City" featured tall towers, giant statues, and crazy lighting effects - until it was converted to a US Naval Station in 1941 and later sold to the city.

Condor Club

Historical Point of Interest: All the plaque at the Condor Club says is "The birthplace of the world's first topless & bottomless entertainment." Enough said.

Lawn Bowling Clubhouse and Greens

City Landmark 181: Lawnbowling may not seem like a landmark-worthy sport, but the Lawn Bowling Club in Golden Gate Park was founded back in 1901 and is known as the oldest lawn bowling club in the United States.

Earthquake Refugee Shack

City Landmark 171: After the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, the City Corps of Engineers built 5,610 refugee cottages consisting of a couple rooms, a gas connection, and green paint (to better blend in the public parks and squares they were located) and leased to the homeless. This one is actually three cottages combined for one house, and one of the few remaining in existence.

Cadillac Hotel

City Landmark 176: The Cadillac Hotel has some great Art Nouveau architecture, but is actually listed as a landmark for being the home of Newman's Gym, supposedly the oldest professional boxing facility in the United States. Nearly all of the greats in American boxing history trained or competed here.

Lotta Crabtree Fountain

City Landmark 73 and National Register listed: Lotta Crabtree was a child singer and dancer in Gold Rush era California, becoming one of the 19th century's most famous entertainers. She commissioned her own fountain in 1875, and during the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, it became a meeting point for survivors.

Cable Cars

National Historic Landmark: The cable cars, 10 miles of rails, the moving cable, and car-barn are all listed as a National Historic Landmark. The first track was laid in 1873, and San Francisco's system is the only one still in operation in the US.

Sarcophagus of Thomas Starr King

California Landmark 691: Located on the grounds of the First Unitarian Church, the sarcophagus of Unitarian minister Thomas Starr King was one of the only grave sites allowed in city limits after the ban on burials. As a famous orator, he helped sway California to join the Union during the Civil War (Union Square is named for the pro-Union, abolitionist speeches that he delivered on that site).

Farnsworth's Green Street Lab

California Landmark 941: Philo Taylor Farnsworth invented and patented the first operational all-electronic "television system" at his lab here in 1927. He was only 21 at the time - feel unaccomplished yet?

Dutch Windmill

City Landmark 147: Constructed in 1902, the windmill was situated near the Pacific Ocean to capture the westerly winds and use the energy to pump water for Golden Gate Park's irrigation system. The Murphy Windmill was added in 1905.

Doggie Diner Sign

City Landmark 254: The Doggie Diner restaurant at the corner of 46th Ave and Sloat featured a large sign designed in 1966. After the fast food chain went out of business, a grassroots effort saved the sign and now it sits on a post on Sloat Boulevard.

Tadich Grill

City Landmark 145: The Tadich Grill is the oldest restaurant in California, founded in 1849 as the New World Coffee Stand. The location has moved a few times, settling at 240 California in 1967. The interior has not changed since the 1920s.