San Francisco Spotlight: Ghirardelli Square

By Shelly Lurie

If you plan on visiting the City by the Bay, Ghirardelli Square needs to be on your list of places to visit.

Today, Ghirardelli Square is known for housing an array of upscale shops, fine dining, wine bars, spa facilities and, of course, the infamous Ghirardelli Original Chocolate Manufactory & Ghirardelli Chocolate Marketplace. Located on the beautiful San Francisco Bay just west of Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s already an ideal spot to check out. But, the history of Ghirardelli Square and the ice cream sundaes are why we’re recommending you pay this place a visit. Be forewarned: This destination is heaven for those with a sweet tooth.

Let’s start with the sweets. When visiting Ghirardelli Square, make sure you go to one of the Ghirardelli shops for an ice cream treat – usually covered in Ghirardelli hot fudge, chocolate squares, or any other chocolate creation Ghirardelli makes. You can also indulge in other Ghirardelli treats including shakes, floats, and malts. And, Ghirardelli Chocolate also makes for a great gift – so grab some varieties from the marketplace on your way out.

Some Sweet History

Rewind back to the California Gold Rush – 1849. Domingo Ghirardelli immigrated to the United States hoping to strike it rich.  After many unsuccessful attempts at mining, he decided to open a store in Stockton selling various supplies and sweets to miners. With the success of his business, Ghirardelli expanded in San Francisco, opening a shop and hotel. Not long after, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was born.

Fast forward to 1893, business is booming and Ghirardelli buys an entire city block in San Francisco to expand their headquarters. By 1895 the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was working from their new manufactory, now known as Ghirardelli Square. By the early 1960s, Ghirardelli was bought out by other companies and relocated their manufactory to nearby San Leandro.

Soon after, Ghirardelli Square was purchased by a local mother and son duo that decided to restore many of the original structures of the square and convert it into the courtyard with shops that stands today. They also erected a 15-foot-high illuminated sign spelling “Ghirardelli” that is visible for miles.

Ghirardelli Square officially opened its doors in 1964. A year later, the City of San Francisco declared it an official city landmark and has since been granted National Historic Register status to ensure its preservation for future generations.
Next time you’re in SF (or even if you’re a local), support good jobs here in the U.S. and go buy some Ghirardelli chocolate or treat yourself to one of their decadent sundaes. You deserve it!

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