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San Francisco Office Space Guide

[Updated Oct 2020] A guide to executive suites and office space for rent in San Francisco as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting offices in the city.

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The Bay Area

San Francisco was founded as a settlement along the west coast of North America in the late 18th century and it is now the leading city of the San Francisco Bay Area that accommodates more than seven million inhabitants. The city itself has a population of close to a million and is one of the leading finance, business and tourism centers in the United States.

Spanish fleets were the first Europeans to arrive on the Californian coast now known as the San Francisco Peninsula and they named the mission they established thereafter the great Catholic hero Saint Francis of Assisi. The stretch of water between the San Francisco Peninsula and the Marin Peninsula to the north became known as the Golden Gate, which is now the name of the iconic bridge that reaches out across it.


The settlement and the area now comprising central San Francisco became independent of Spanish rule in 1821 but then immediately became part of Mexico. The influence of both the Spanish and the Mexicans was to wane over the next few decades though as other Europeans came to settle and develop the region. Eventually, the city was declared to be part of the American nation, which was then steadily being established and spread from east to west.

California and the Bay Area were important sites in the scheme of the Mexican-American War of the late 1840s, particularly after gold was discovered in the hills around the Golden Gate. The war began when the US claimed Texas from the Mexicans and, while much of the fighting took place in the more southerly states, plenty of attention was soon being turned to the western edge of California.

Gold rush

Prior to the mid-19th century, the town was small and still known as Yerba Buena, having been largely isolated and difficult to access. It was only home to a few thousand individuals right up until 1948, when the great Californian Gold Rush took hold and changed the region forever. Indeed, it is regarded as one of the most significant and dramatic events in American history, with prospectors arriving from across the continent and around the world in the hope of striking it rich.

All of which meant the population of San Francisco grew at a remarkable pace and increased dozens of times over in 1849 alone  (this influx of inhabitants gave its name to the local football team the San Francisco ’49s). Large-scale development and rapid population growth continued for several decades, particularly after the completion of the Pacific Railroad in the late 1860s.

The Great Quake

Much of the building work that took place in San Francisco in the later part of the 19th century was to be undone in 1906 as the result of a devastating earthquake that destroyed huge portions of the city. Thousands of people died or were left homeless after the quake destroyed the majority of residential properties and commercial buildings in the fledgeling downtown district.

Recovery efforts were swiftly put into place however and the reconstruction work has come to define much of San Francisco’s famous cityscape. Its standing as a great American commercial centre was quickly recovered and grand public constructions like the Golden Gate Bridge helped the city find its identity and become an iconic global destination.


San Francisco gained a reputation as a serious player in America’s banking and finance sector in the wake of the early Gold Rush years and has largely maintained that status ever since. Companies like the Bank of California and Wells Fargo were founded around this time and still count San Francisco as their operational headquarters. Other businesses based in the city include the payment technology firm Visa, social media firm Twitter and the two giant clothing brands Gap Inc and Levi Strauss.

Its heritage as a center for financial services and other professional services helped drive the development of the local economy and the architecture in the downtown area. There are now dozens of skyscraping office buildings in the primary financial district.

In recent years, San Francisco has been among the most dynamic cities in the world in the context of technological and internet-based innovation. It was recognized as the capital of what became known as the Dot-com Bubble, a period in the late 1990s when dozens of internet companies were founded and attracted sometimes astonishing levels of investment. The city’s links with the nearby technological innovation heartlands of the Silicon Valley and other parts of California have helped it maintain a presence at the cutting-edge of the global economy. Several of the world’s leading Web 2.0 companies or organisations are based in the downtown area.

Office space to rent in San Francisco

Activity within the commercial property sector of San Francisco has been notably hampered by a struggling American economy and stubbornly high levels of unemployment ever since the onset of the financial crisis of 2008. However, stronger activity among office space tenants in the city has been referenced in the latest data and reports from real estate analysts reflecting on the city’s recent progress.

It is now widely anticipated that major office space markets across North America will see a pick-up in activity and demand over the course of 2011, with San Francisco very much considered in that bracket. Indeed, CB Richard Ellis has recently predicted that the city will see the steepest climbs in the cost of renting office space in the US this year. It remains to be seen quite how the market will develop but it could well be a great time to start renting office space in San Francisco.

Tourism and Transport

Some of America’s most recognised and visited landmarks are to be found in San Francisco and even parts of its public transport system are regarded as iconic tourist attractions. The cable car system runs across the city and is simultaneously entertaining and functional. Other attractions include the Golden Gate Bridge, the former army base and prison on Alcatraz Island and the very fun and friendly Fisherman’s Wharf. The city is also well served by a set of road networks and by both sea and airports.

Sport and culture

San Francisco can boast some of the biggest and best sporting arenas in the United States, as well as some of the most successful franchises in the history of America’s favourite pastimes. The San Francisco ’49ers are five-time Superbowl winners and the oldest sports team in the city. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants are the current and a six-time World Series-winning baseball team, although the franchise only moved west from New York in 1958.

San Francisco is among the most culturally interesting and diverse cities in America, boasting as it does an array of well-funded museums, art galleries and theaterss. There are also several picturesque parks and beaches that help the often sun-soaked inhabitants enjoy an outdoor lifestyle for much of the year and the city is renowned and respected as a bastion of lesbian and gay rights and lifestyles.

Activity within the commercial property sector of San Francisco has been notably hampered by a struggling American economy and stubbornly high levels of unemployment ever since the onset of the financial crisis of 2008. However, stronger activity among office space tenants in the city has been referenced in the latest data and reports from real estate analysts reflecting on the city’s recent progress.

We carry out a free office space search and our advisory and acquisition services are also free, always. Our San Francisco office space brokers and agents are globally regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) ensuring the highest standards of commercial property advice and service at all times. We look forward to helping you find the best office space for rent for your business.

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The Office Providers are Regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

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