The Last Light of Day on the Transamerica Pyramid
For many, the Transamerica Pyramid is the symbol of San Francisco business. But the block on which she sits was a site for commerce well before the Pyramid was completed in 1972. In 1849 when this spot was still waterfront, the abandoned ship Niantic was converted here into city's first multi-use building featuring stores, offices and warehouses. Inside the old ship you could buy goods from all the arriving ships from Panamanian bananas and Asian brocades to monkeys, parrots, and other unusual animals. In 1852 when the ship the burned to the ground the Niantic Hotel, San Francisco's finest, was erected on top of its burnt hull.

Also built here in 1852 was the huge four-story Montgomery Block, the largest and most expensive building on the Pacific Coast. The building, the first fireproof and earthquake resistant one in San Francisco, was designed to resemble ancient Roman baths and was the city's most prestigious address. It was saved from the 1906 fire by a fierce tenant named Oliver Perry Stidger who stood his ground with a pistol and declared he would shoot any man who came to blow up the building in order to halt the flames.

Over the years the 'Monkey Block', as it was referred to by locals, became home to many writers and artists such as Mark Twain, Bret Harte, George Sterling, Lola Montez, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Lotta Crabtree, Frank Norris, Ambrose Bierce, and Jack London. Before it was demolished in 1959, its historic importance as a bohemian center of the city was recognized as "the most famous literary and artistic structure in the West."
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