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Financial District / Barbary Coast

Although the term "Barbary Coast" is derived from the 18th century reference to the wild coast of North Africa, it has become synonymous with pirates and debauchery. Thus, during the Gold Rush era of San Francisco, the nine-block area bounded by Montgomery Street, Washington Street, Stockton Street and Broadway became known as the Barbary Coast. Abandoned ships ultimately sunk and were covered with landfill and have continued to be uncovered during construction as late as 2001. The Financial District, predominately a commercial center of historic banks built on Gold Rush fortunes and high-rise office buildings, offers a smattering of upscale apartments and condominiums - and the demand is growing. Four-star, expense account restaurants and hotels, as well as services of all kinds, are never more than a block away. Green space can be found if you're persistent: Jackson Square Park, near the Embarcadero Center, is the perfect place for a refreshing, sunny picnic lunch. Hidden between the famous TransAmerica Pyramid and another high rise, you'll find TransAmerica Redwood Park, a tiny sanctuary where busy stockbrokers take a break to watch Chinese grandmas practice their Tai Chi.

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