Is Union Square really a square?

Actually, it is! Union Square is created by Geary, Powell, Stockton, and Post streets. The square became a public space in 1849, when San Francisco’s first mayor, John White Geary, designated the area for public use.

How did Union Square get its name?

During the Civil War, (when the Northern States and the Southern States of the U.S. fought against one another over the abolition of slavery), the area was used as a meeting place for Union Army rallies.

How do I get there?

Union Square is a short walk from CISL San Francisco, which is located on Market Street in the Financial District. To get to Union Square from CISL San Francisco, head southwest on Market Street, and turn right at Geary Street. The walk is less than five minutes.

Parking is difficult throughout San Francisco, but the city’s efficient public transportation system ensures easy access to Union Square. The easiest way to get to Union Square is by the city’s Municipal Railway (Muni) or Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) systems. If you MUST drive, parking is available underneath the square.

If you are looking for a unique and fun mode of transportation, considering using of San Francisco’s cable cars!


What is there to do?

Most students visit Union Square to experience its upscale shops, but there are many other unique attractions in the area. Check out The Cheesecake Factory above Macy’s for a fantastic view of the square and it shoppers. We particularly recommend doing this as Christmastime when you can view the beautifully decorated Macy’s Christmas tree–a famous San Francisco attraction that draws huge crowds for its annual tree lighting ceremony in late November. December visitors can also spend a few hours at the outdoor ice skating rink that operates during the winter months.

If you head West on Geary Street, you will find the Curran Theatre, the “Broadway of San Francisco.” The Curran has hosted many famous productions including A Chorus Line, The Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables. Next door to the Curran is the American Conservatory Theater: a non-profit organization that hosts classical and contemporary theater productions and also trains actors.

As with most other places in San Francisco, we recommend an old past time: people watching! San Francisco is filled with the most interesting of characters. An hour on a bench in SF is like a free fashion show and a comedy show all rolled in to one.

Have you visited Union Square? Do you have any tips or recommendations for ESL students who want to visit this area of the city? If so, email us at [email protected]