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Ghirardelli Square

Ghiradelli Square, San Francisco [Towerman86 at en.wikipedia, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]
Ghiradelli Square, San Francisco [Towerman86 at en.wikipedia, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Ghiradelli Chocolate stands for San Francisco.

Ghirardelli Square is located at 900 North Point Street between Beach and Larkin Streets. It is near the west end of Fisherman’s Wharf, two blocks east of Van Ness Avenue and one block west of the Cable Car turnaround at Beach and Hyde Streets.

In the 1960’s The Golden Grain Macaroni Company bought Ghirardelli Chocolate and relocated it to a modern new facility across the bay in San Leandro. Upon hearing of the sale and fearing that the historic buildings on the property would be torn down and replaced by a modern apartment complex, two prominent San Franciscans, William Matson Roth, and his mother, Mrs. William P. Roth, purchased the entire Ghirardelli block.

In addition to restoring as many of the original structures as possible, William Roth introduced a new marketing method by evolving the old chocolate factory into a lovely brick-terraced courtyard of shops and fine restaurants. In November 1964, Ghirardelli Square opened and is considered the first successful adaptive reuse project in the country. In order to ensure its preservation for future generations, Ghirardelli Square was granted National Historic Register status in 1982.

A Square is born
Domingo’s business was growing and in 1889 he officially signed over ownership of his business to his sons. To accommodate it, Domingo’s sons purchased an entire block of property for their headquarters in 1893 that overlooked San Francisco Bay. The property consisted of the Woolen Mill, the Apartment Building and many other buildings on the property. Domingo and his sons began a spectacular building program that included the Chocolate Building in 1899, Cocoa Building in 1900, the Clock Tower in 1911 and the Power House in 1915. Ghirardelli Square was the result and is now, of course, a San Francisco landmark.
Domingo retired in 1892 and during a visit to that same little Italian town from which he’d departed more than a half century earlier, Domingo Ghirardelli passed away in 1894. His greatest contribution to confectionery? The Broma Process: His patented method for making dry, powdered chocolate. This unique process became the heart of his operations.

Map Ghiradelli Square

Ghiradelli Chocolate Using Domingo’s old confectionary trade, he managed to rebuild and open a store on Kearny at Washington with a partner named Girard, until his wife joined him as a business partner and formed Mrs. Ghirardelli & Company.
After operating stores in several locations, the store that firmly fixed Ghirardelli fame was established on Jackson Street circa 1856 where it flourished for the next 40 years. From this factory, Domingo shipped chocolate products not only throughout the United States, but also to Mexico, Hawaii and British Columbia. At that time, the factory was among the largest in the western half of North America.

Domingo Ghiradelli
Born in Rapallo, Italy in 1817, Domenico “Domingo” Ghirardelli learned about the confectionery and chocolate trade by the time he was 20. Uruguay and Peru were the first places he set up shop — but tales of the Gold Rush were irresistible. In 1848, Domingo’s neighbor, James Lick, packed up $25,000, 600 pounds of Ghirardelli chocolate and sailed for the San Francisco Bay. A year later, Domingo followed him through the Golden Gate.
Domingo successfully opened stores in Stockton during the Gold Rush, but unfortunately did not fare so well with his future business endeavors. The Europa Hotel, — one of the first hotels in Old San Francisco, burned in The Great Fire of 1851, along with everything Domingo owned in San Francisco. Four days later, another fire burned his Stockton properties to the ground.

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