Know where to find this beautiful sight? It's the rotunda the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. September is Architecture Month in the City by the Bay. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FIRST THOUGHT: If we were to stop you right now and take your elbow -- if we might be so forward -- and ask you to "think of an iconic example of San Francisco architecture," would you scrunch your brow and have a bit of a difficult time just landing on one? Well, perhaps after you think of the Transamerica Pyramid, a building so pointy that it out-points all other pointy buildings on the planet? Yep, you would have a bit of a difficult time landing on just one: Coit Tower is there, of course, as is the Palace of Fine Arts, The Painted Ladies, the Fairmont Hotel, oh, and yes, of course, apologies, now we feel badly, but last and certainly not least, the Golden Gate Bridge. The fact is that the oft-foggy burg just out-iconics other iconic metropolises on the iconic architecture front, easily, making a San Francisco building almost instantly identifiable, even if you remove it, picture-wise, from its Bay-close surroundings. Seriously, how many other cities can claim that? A few distinct destinations, of course, but the truth is this: San Francisco architecture is about the architecture-iest on this planet and maybe any other.
SO... when Architecture Month rolls in, like a marine layer in the Marina District, building buffs sign up for tours and special events. September is that month, and the get-out-and-get-to-know-the-structures-of-San-Francisco to-dos are plentiful: behind-the-scenes peeks of the Exploratorium -- that's the new Exploratorium, of course -- as well as a Phillip Choy-led tour of Chinatown. Valencia Street businesses will get the tour guide love, too, as will Fisherman's Wharf. Nope, there probably isn't a twisty, breath-huffy street that hasn't been well-documented in the city, but, given its fast, Gold Rush-based rise, and its 1906 earthquake, and all of the colorful characters who have come through and built, built, built, that is understandable. It's a building maven's dream place, in short, and September is the month to completely indulge.