Map of San Francisco in the movies

The Full house The opening credits are legendary, not only because we see John Stamos in a mullet, but also because they contain some of the most famous shots of San Francisco. The television series showcased the beauty of the city and its laid-back culture, from the height of the Golden Gate Bridge to the whimsical picnic scene in front of the painted ladies in Alamo Square.

San Francisco has long been a popular destination for filmmakers, given its steep and winding streets, the ever-present presence of Carl the Fog, and the unique architectural charm provided by its Victorian-style homes.

Although today’s directors and producers flock to San Francisco to shoot blockbusters, the history of science fiction cinema goes back to the 20th century, with film legends such as Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock filming some of their most famous works in such places like Palace of Fine Arts and Dolores Park.

A camera crew prepares to shoot a scene in San Francisco in the 1950s. | American Stock/Getty Images

Movie buffs can recognize fantasy behind the scenes in Steven Soderbergh’s ever-relevant film infection, while others associate the city with the 1993 classic Mrs. Doubtfirestarring Robin Williams, the actor who most often appears in films made in the genre of science fiction.

Using data on film locations for the end of 2021 from the Science Fiction Film Commission, The Standard has compiled a series of maps and charts to track the city’s most suitable filming locations, filmmakers who find inspiration on the streets of Germany and the films that depicted characters Unique areas of SF.

The Film Commission dataset includes only feature films and major series. And while that doesn’t include Alcatraz (on federal land) or even Full house (filmed almost entirely on location in Los Angeles), the database contains the most comprehensive list of filming locations in the city.

The director’s favorite places

Many famous directors hail from San Francisco itself, and many have returned to the city to play or direct concerts. Just look at Danny Glover: he’s an actor and director known for his political activism, but he also boasts starring roles in Mandela and The last black man in San Francisco (the last of which filmed scenes in more than 30 locations in the city).

Others consider NF their muse. Director Garry Marshall directed no fewer than four rom-coms in the city, creating classics such as Princess diaries and Beaches.

Legendary filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock, Chris Columbus and Philip Kaufman each produced four sci-fi based films, while other filmmakers such as Wayne Wang drew inspiration from the vibrant Asian communities of the Bay Area. Wang continued to make heartfelt films like Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart and Joy of Luck Clubwhich provided an intimate look at San Francisco’s Chinatown area.

The most popular movie settings in San Francisco

It’s no wonder that the Golden Gate Bridge is the best location for filming movies. But the No. 1 spot is actually City Hall, with its majestic dome that’s said to be nearly a foot taller than the U.S. Capitol.

Doomsday earthquake San Andreas and the Alfred Hitchcock classic dizzinessexample, both feature the Golden Gate Bridge heavily. But the 1955 sci-fi monster movie It came from under the sea did it first. Famous monster creator Ray Harryhausen spent most of his budget creating a giant octopus that wrapped itself around the bridge. (This creature was affectionately dubbed the “six-legged” because the film didn’t have enough money to bring all the tentacles to life.)

A giant octopus attacks a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in a film from He Came From Under the Sea, directed by Robert Gordon, 1955. | Colombia Pictures/Courtesy of Getty Images

Although locations are scattered throughout the city, the filmmakers seem to be concentrating most of their filming in downtown locations such as the Financial District and along the Embarcadero. Matrix resurrections relied on majestic downtown skyscrapers as backdrops for car chases, and Blue jasmine used the streets of Marina and the hazy scenery of Ocean Beach to set a melancholy tone for the drama.

Love letters to San Francisco

After all, some movies are like a love letter to the city.

If you’re new to San Francisco, you may have learned about the Painted Ladies by watching Full house or ride the cable car at Nahnatchka Khan’s Always be my possible. If you’re local, maybe it was Princess diaries it reminded you of the urban vagaries of youth and painfully steep pavements (we’re looking at you, Bradford Street).

In any case, the films chosen for this map look like brochures for San Francisco, using the most unique locations for filming scenes.

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