It runs about 16 blocks from the Telegraph Hill neighborhood south through downtown, terminating at Market Street. South of Columbus Avenue, Montgomery Street runs through the heart of San Francisco's Financial District. For this reason, it is sometimes called "the Wall Street of the West". South of Market Street, the street continues as New Montgomery Street for two more blocks to terminate at Howard Street in the SOMA district.
In the 1830s, the land which is now Montgomery Street lay at the edge of San Francisco Bay. Intense land speculation during the Gold Rush created a demand for more usable land in the rapidly growing city, and sandy bluffs near the waterfront were leveled and the shallows filled with sand (and the ruins of many ships) to make new building lots. Between 1849 and 1852, the waterfront advanced about four blocks. At present, Montgomery Street is about seven blocks from the water.
The corner of Montgomery and Clay is where John B. Montgomery landed when he came to hoist the U.S. flag after the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846. In 1853 the Montgomery Block, a center of early San Francisco law and literature, was built at 600 Montgomery, on land currently occupied by the Transamerica Pyramid.
Many banks and financial-services companies have had offices in the buildings on or near Montgomery Street, especially between Market Street and Sacramento Street:
- The world headquarters of Wells Fargo are at 420 Montgomery.
- 555 California Street, between Kearny and Montgomery, served as Bank of America's world headquarters prior to its merger with NationsBank and was (from 1969 to 2005) officially called the Bank of America Building.
- The Transamerica Pyramid (600 Montgomery, at Columbus Avenue) was the headquarters of Transamerica Corporation and still appears in the company's logo.
- Melvin Belli, lawyer known as "The King of Torts", had his offices at the Belli Building at 722-724 Montgomery St. Belli used to raise a Jolly Roger and fire a cannon every time he won a case.
- Bank of the West is headquartered at 180 Montgomery Street.
Notable high-rises and skyscrapers along Montgomery Street in the Financial District:
- 44 Montgomery
- Hunter-Dulin Building (111 Sutter at Montgomery)
- 100 Montgomery Street
- 101 Montgomery
- 180 Montgomery Street
- Russ Building (235 Montgomery)
- Commercial Union Assurance Building (315 Montgomery)
- 456 Montgomery Plaza
- 505 Montgomery Street
- Transamerica Pyramid (600 Montgomery)
- "F-Market & Wharves Streetcar Line – Market Street Railway". Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- Prentice, Carol S. (2006). "Walk 3:Montgomery Street to Jackson Square". 1906 San Francisco earthquake centennial field guides. Geological Society of America. p. 17. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- "San Francisco – Before the Gold Rush – 1847". Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- "Office of Historic Preservation: San Francisco". Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- City of San Francisco and its Vicinity California (Map, 1853)
- "EDGAR Online: Wells Fargo & Co/MN (WFC) – 8-K – 7/27/2010". Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- "555 California St., San Francisco, CA". Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- "Transamerica Pyramid". Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- Crovo, Lisa. "When Renovation Meets Litigation -- And the Trash Piles Up". San Francisco Coastnews. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- Davis, Lisa (12 April 2000). "Battle Belli". San Francisco Weekly. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- "BART – Montgomery St.". Retrieved July 31, 2010.
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