10 Underrated San Francisco Landmarks

No one would think about dismantling the Golden Gate Bridge or Coit Tower. But what about Sutro Tower? Is it time to pin a designation on Red’s Java House and Amoeba Records? A world-class city's landmarks aren't always frequented by tourists. These are our favorites. Read more: http://sfchron.cl/landmarks (via Peter Hartlaub)
  1. 1.
    Hunters Point crane
    The giant structure has repaired battleship turrets and has the capacity (that red-and-white tower part) to launch Polaris missiles. It's one of the more visible San Francisco landmarks from the East Bay and Peninsula shoreline, but you'll have to look past the fact that it’s situated near a Superfund site.
  2. 2.
    Sutro Tower
    It barely makes the list because it’s been celebrated so much in recent years. Easily the greatest and most prominent non-landmark landmark in San Francisco. (Even Chronicle architecture critic John King is on board.)
  3. 3.
    Cow Palace
    This convention center (which is technically across the street from San Francisco) has hosted everything from pro hockey to Republican conventions to roller derby to hemp conventions to dog shows to Van Halen to the Dickens Faire to Evel Knievel. All under that sign with the one-of-a-kind Cow Palace font.
  4. 4.
    New Hills Bros. Coffee sign
    The old sign on the ugly building with the guy in the nightgown was cool, but when traveling on incoming ferries and the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, we like seeing the neon-orange “HILLS BROS COFFEE” on that nice brick building even more.
  5. 5.
    Red’s Java House facade
    We’re emotionally ready to let Sinbad’s go, but as long as there’s an Embarcadero, the city needs Red’s Java House with an untouched menu. Seriously, no one is ever allowed to upscale the menu at this place. Red’s is forever.
  6. 6.
    Amoeba Records facade
    This converted bowling alley where Haight Street ends at Golden Gate Park is more than a business — it’s a colorful and iconic part of San Francisco culture.
  7. 7.
    Vaillancourt Fountain
    Despised by architecture critics, yet somehow it grows on locals. It seems fitting that the street skating scene emerged from this spot along the Embarcadero. Two things the city didn’t want but now needs to accept as artistic expression.
  8. 8.
    Beep’s Burgers sign
    Maybe it’s only us (and a few thousand Ingleside residents), but the Beep’s Burger sign on Ocean Avenue is ready for elevation to A-list San Francisco landmark status.
  9. 9.
    Golden Gate Park Carousel
    Of the many lovely places to go in the park, this is our happy place. (Sorry, bison herd.) A beautifully restored 101-year-old carousel, just across the way from McLaren Lodge. It's still just $1 per ride for kids — one of the last great deals in the city.
  10. 10.
    Mount Davidson Cross
    Not for religious reasons, but because of the history of the cross at the city’s highest elevation. It has been burned down, rebuilt, filmed in “Dirty Harry,” snowed on a few times, and it has hosted about 90 Easter services since the first one was erected in 1923.