Top 10 Iconic Signs of San Francisco

Categories: Architecture


10. Doc's Clock
This edge of the Mission district has its share of flashy signs, but none top the irony of Doc's Clock': flashy on the outside, dive-y on the inside.


9. House of Prime Rib
One classy sign of San Francisco that actually reflects the same level of classy on the inside of this fine establishment.


8. Tommy's Joynt
We're not sure what's more iconic, the mouth-watering scent of their slow-cooked meats from block away, or the groovy font and flowing flags hovering above this destination BBQ joint.


7. "Today is the first day of the rest of your life"
Sure, the intersection of Haight and Ashbury is legendary and probably the most photographed street sign in San Francisco. But many tourists and locals overlook this humble wooden sign at Central and Waller Streets allegedly left behind by the Diggers community activists of the 60s. It encapsulates the ideologies of San Francisco then and now.


6. Coca Cola Sign
With its highly marketable location hovering above I-80 in SOMA, commuters have been in a love-hate relationship with this sign for more than 80 years. The combination of its classic design and neon lights makes this billboard stand out among the plethora of ads lining the freeway. In 2009, the LED lights were replaced with "100% sustainable energy" giving it that environmentally friendly edge a sign in SF should have.


5. Bimbo's
Whoever had the idea to light up the word "Bimbo's" in giant letters had to have been a Bimbo (fun fact: Bimbo was the owner's nickname). True legends like Rita Hayworth, Neil Diamond, and Adele (!!!) have rolled into town to rock this venue.


4. Li-Po Cocktail Lounge
Usually, when this Chinatown lounge enters a conversation, it's about the infamous Mai Tais. Maybe people are too drunk to notice the epic neon sign out front, or maybe it's hidden about the countless neon signs littering the neighborhood, but the essence of Chinese poet Li-Po's exquisite grace shines late into the night.

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3. The Condor
This historical SF institution marks the world's first establishment offering topless and bottomless entertainment. The historical body of this performance hung on the side of the building: a larger-than-life sign depicting the ta ta's of Carol Doda. The club's current (and less booby) sign went up in 1991, but don't worry, you can still find the '64 portrait of Doda hanging up inside the place.


2. St. Francis Fountain
Those who trot to the end of 24th Street are welcomed by neon lights and giant painted candy canes. St. Francis Fountain sits on the corner, restored to its original glory of the 1940s. The diner's owners say the neon and candy sign is pretty standard for its day, but we say its a modern gem.


1. Castro Theater
Not only does the city's 100th registered landmark have the most recognized and badass sign across the city's 49 miles, but it just might be the oldest as well. The theater's marquee and vertical neon sign were installed in the late 1930s and have been maintained ever since.

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Eric Carlson
Eric Carlson

These ten are GREAT I'd add the 500 club also "PORT OF SAN FRANCISCO" is a great sign "tadich Grill" maybe the giant Safeway sign at Church and market great signage out on Geary- maybe someone in the Richmond has a couple faves to add.....


The Café Triesté (Preferably the old sign from back in day) but failing that I'd go with El Rio Your Dive, and Caesers Latin Palace (Gone Now)

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