"Old St. Mary's Cathedral" Old St. Mary's Cathedral Tip by Jefie

  Old St. Mary's Cathedral, Chinatown
by Jefie
  • Old St. Mary's Cathedral, Chinatown - San Francisco
      Old St. Mary's Cathedral, Chinatown
    by Jefie
  • Inside Old St. Mary's Cathedral - San Francisco
      Inside Old St. Mary's Cathedral
    by Jefie

Dating back to 1854, Old St. Mary's Cathedral was the first cathedral built in San Francisco and it is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Nestled as it is at the heart of Chinatown, it's hard to imagine that the cathedral used to cater to a predominantly Irish community. In fact, the cathedral's first mandate was to help the thousands of people who had come to San Francisco during the 1849 gold rush, only to find themselves poor and destitute a few years later. The cathedral soon found itself in a neighborhood where the level of crime and violence became such that the Bishop ordered the construction of a new cathedral in a new location. The old cathedral was then transformed into a parish church, which became a beacon of hope in the neighborhood. For this reason, when the church was badly damaged by the fire that followed the 1906 earthquake, people decided it to restore it, keeping its original walls and foundations. The church's interior, which dates back to 1909, is both sober and elegant. I thought it was worth stopping by, if only to soak up the history of a place that has seen San Francisco evolve from its rough beginnings to the beautiful city it has become today!

Address: 660 California St.
Directions: At the corner of Grant Ave., Chinatown
Phone: 415-288-3800
Website: http://www.oldsaintmarys.org

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Oct 3, 2009
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