Union Square

The biggest names in retail and the ladies who lunch make Union Square anything but square. Virtually every fashion label in the world has set up shop in and around Square, a landmark park in the heart of the downtown shopping and hotel district. Granite plazas, a stage, a café and four grand entrance corner plazas bordered by the park's signature palms, pay tribute to the Square's distinctive history and offer a forum for civic celebrations. The cable cars head up Powell Street from here and flowerstands brighten corners. Thousands originally from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have given the Tenderloin, a 20-square-block district west of the Square new life. A landmark church, an experimental theatre house, jazz and blues clubs, restaurants and cafes point to a neighborhood renaissance.