Photos show how San Francisco’s new buildings built in the last decade have permanently changed the city

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Many of the city skyline’s newest additions are ultra-luxe condo projects and towering tech office buildings. George Rose/Getty Images/Katie Canales/Business Insider
  • San Francisco’s skyline and cityscape have become a bit more crowded in the past decade.
  • Salesforce Tower, the mixed-use high-rise at 181 Fremont, the infamously sinking Millennium Tower, the Golden State Warriors’ Chase Centre, and the city’s $US2.2 billion Salesforce Transit Centre are just some of the new developments built in the past decade.
  • Here’s how they have impacted the city.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

San Francisco saw a number of new buildings this past decade – and most are linked to the region’s tech boom.

A 2013 photo of the city’s skyline is void of Salesforce Tower’s imposing figure. In 2019, it stands high and proud well above the well-known Transamerica Pyramid, beating out the 50-year-old building as the city’s highest building.

And other additions to the city, like ultra-luxury condo high-rises and a $US1.4 billion world-class sports centre backed by Silicon Valley tech money, show just how integrated big tech has become into the fabric of the cityscape and its infrastructure.

Unsurprisingly, most of the buildings on this list are in the city’s East Cut neighbourhood. This is where a high concentration of condo high-rises and tech offices -like Salesforce, Facebook, Google, and Slack – have set up shop. The neighbourhood also sits within District 6, a district that has seen 60% of the city’s housing development in the past decade amidst San Francisco’s notoriously stringent zoning restrictions.

Here’s how some of the buildings built in the last decade have impacted San Francisco.


It’s difficult not to start off with San Francisco’s $US1 billion Salesforce Tower. The imposing tower makes quite a statement in the skyline.

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Downtown San Francisco in January 2019. Ben Margot/AP

Source: Business Insider


Construction on the tower in the heart of downtown commenced in 2013.

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The Salesforce Tower, centre, under construction in September 2016. Eric Risberg/AP

Source: San Francisco Chronicle


When it was finished in 2017, it beat San Francisco’s beloved Transamerica Pyramid Building as the tallest building in the city.

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Informational signs in Salesforce Tower in May 2018. Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


It was originally named Transbay Tower, after the neighbourhood’s name at the time, but cloud computing giant Salesforce bought the naming rights as part of a real estate deal with developer Boston Properties.

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Salesforce Tower in February 2019. Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


The company will pay nearly $US560 million over the course of 15 years to lease 30 floors in the building, which will serve as the 20-year-old company’s global headquarters.

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The Salesforce Tower, left, in August 2018. Lorin Eleni Gill/AP

Source: Business Insider


CEO Marc Benioff’s decision to plant the company’s “vertical village” in San Francisco was unusual compared to other tech giants at the time building campuses in the valley south of the city.

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Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff during the grand opening of the Salesforce Tower in May 2018. Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group via Getty Images

Source: LA Times


Silicon Valley proper’s long-time players, like Facebook and Google, have since expanded with offices in the heart of San Francisco, not far away from Salesforce Tower.

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From left to right: Facebook’s office at Park Tower, the 181 Fremont mixed-use high-rise, and Salesforce Tower. Katie Canales/Business Insider

But back then, Twitter and Uber were among the only big tech companies with HQ’s in the city. Neither of them, however, have quite the same presence that Salesforce’s tower does.

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The Salesforce Transit Centre in July 2019. Eric Risberg/AP

An LED light installation wraps the crown of the tower, though what is displayed on it nightly is always somewhat difficult to make out.

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But the company did appease the masses on Halloween 2018, when an online petition begged Benioff to turn the light display into the eye of Sauron from “The Lord of the Rings.”

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A super blue blood moon (not the eye of Sauron, sadly) is seen setting behind Salesforce Tower in January 2018. Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


On the other hand, some have compared the tower in less favourable terms. As The New York Times wrote, “the tower is not beautiful, but is impossible to ignore.”

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Source: The New York Times


But, as Curbed writes, the city was also not in favour of the Transamerica Pyramid when it was built in 1972. And now it’s one of the most iconic sights in San Francisco. So there’s hope for Salesforce Tower.

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The Transamerica Pyramid and the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Source: Curbed SF


The high-rise was built alongside what was once the original Transbay Terminal.

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Source: Business Insider


It’s since been demolished, and in its place is a new, $US2.2 billion transportation hub, originally christened Transbay Terminal until Salesforce bought the naming rights. It was a project almost two decades in the making.

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Source: Business Insider


The Salesforce Transit Centre was designed to serve as a more centralised location for local transportation, where commuters from the East Bay, the valley, and beyond could easily zip into the city’s downtown area.

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Source: Business Insider


The structure’s white latticed encasement is one of the most recognisable sights in downtown.

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It officially opened in September 2018, along with a sprawling, lush rooftop park that’s open to the public, with walkways, seating areas, and some cafes.

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Source: Business Insider


There are eleven bus lines running through the station on a third-story level. The project included a bridge designed to more easily ferry buses in from the highway, an issue that has plagued transportation in the part of town for years.

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Source: Business Insider


But it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the four-block-long centre and its rooftop park.

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Work continues on the Salesforce Transit Centre in March 2019. Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Just six weeks after its grand opening in September 2018, workers discovered two cracked steel beams in the centre’s third-floor bus deck.

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A closed section of Fremont Street is seen near the Salesforce Transit Centre in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


The centre, the park, and its bus lines closed while repairs and reinforcement were made to the cracked load-bearing beams.

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The closed Salesforce Transit Centre in September 2018. Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


The transit centre and bus service officially reopened in July 2019. Anyone can breeze on up to the beautiful rooftop park once again.

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Source: Business Insider


From the rooftop park, you can see a glass high-rise encased in white beams.

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This is the tower at 181 Fremont, whose sole commercial tenant is Facebook.

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Source: Business Insider


The top half of the tower consists of 55 multi-million-dollar residences, including a five-bedroom $US42 million penthouse.

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Source: Business Insider


The first condo sold for $US15 million in August 2018, breaking the city’s record for the highest-price-per-square-foot sale for a condo.

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Source: San Francisco Business Times


Meaning that there’s a market for the city’s spate of ultra-luxe condo skyscrapers. And 181 Fremont is only one example of these kinds of projects.

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Source: San Francisco Business Times


Another is the Millennium Tower, though it has had a rockier track record.

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Source: Business Insider


The residential tower was completed in 2009, with residents moving in starting in 2010.

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Millennium Tower in August 2016. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Source: LA Times


But in 2015, residents learned that the building had sunk 16 inches and tilted 2 inches.

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Pedestrians inspect cracks near the sinking Millennium Tower in September 2016. Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


NBC Bay Area reported in July 2017 that about 50 residents said they were “stuck with nearly worthless condos.”

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Source: NBC Bay Area


A messy string of lawsuits was filed, but in August 2019, the lead attorney for residents in the building told the SF Examiner that a settlement had been reached, though there aren’t many public details regarding it.

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Homeowner Jerry Dodson, 69, outside the Millennium Tower in San Francisco in September 2016. Eric Risberg/AP

Source: Curbed SF


But one solution may see the light of day — a $US100 million proposal is being considered that suggests installing concrete piles that will redistribute the tower’s weight to bedrock instead of its existing foundation.

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Marking on the footpath outside San Francisco’s Millennium Tower. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Source: Curbed SF


Luxury condo high-rises and office skyscrapers aren’t the only notable additions to the city in the past decade. A bit south of downtown is San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighbourhood.

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San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighbourhood. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


This part of town is home to the UCSF Medical Centre and Kaiser Permanente, an Oakland-based healthcare company.

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Source: Business Insider


But it’s also now where the home stadium for the Golden State Warriors is. The venue’s financing is unlike others in the modern sports era in that Chase Centre was funded privately.

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Source: Business Insider


The sports team poured $US1.4 billion into the Chase Centre project without any financial support from the city of San Francisco. Construction broke ground in 2017.

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Source: Business Insider


But that doesn’t mean the Golden State Warriors will buckle under the costs — the Silicon Valley elite of the region’s booming tech market will ensure they don’t.

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Source: Business Insider


The team has $US2 billion under contract from a cluster of founding partners, including tech giants like Adobe, Oracle, Google Cloud, Accenture, and, of course, JPMorgan Chase, which shelled out a reported $US300 million to snag the naming rights to the stadium for 20 years.

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Source: Business Insider


According to Reuters, the Warriors’ president, Rick Welts, also said the Chase Centre development would not have panned out without the revenue generated from the office space that was built as part of the project. Uber is set to occupy much of that space.

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Source: Business Insider


Welts, the Warriors’ president, told the media during a tour of the new arena in August 2019 that over time the Chase Centre’s biggest contribution to the city would be the entertainment aspect of the facilities.

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Source: Business Insider


So Chase Centre will not only serve as a luxurious sports arena experience but will also host concerts and other performances.

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Source: Business Insider