Ghirardelli Square offers a number of shops and restaurants to enjoy, as well as a source for as much of the titular chocolate confectioneries as visitors can carry. Those visitors can also discover details of the long history of the Ghirardelli brand as they tour the square, and even more history can be found on the Ghirardelli website.
The square is, of course, named for the brand's founder, Domingo Ghirardelli, who was apprenticed in making confectioneries in his homeland of Italy. He immigrated to America in 1849 during the California Gold Rush, first opening a shop in Stockton.
He moved his business to San Francisco in 1851 and the next year opened the Ghirardely & Girard confectionery company on the corner of Kearny and Washington Streets. The rest is chocolate history.
Within a few decades the company was shipping its products all over the United States and even across the world. In 1892 Domingo turned the company over to his sons and a year later manufacturing moved to North Point Street, where Ghirardelli Square still is today. The earthquake of 1906 barely slowed the company down - it resumed operations only 10 days after the disaster.
The rest of the square’s attractions came into being in 1962, when the property’s new owners commissioned the design of a shopping center. Though the chocolate factory itself moved to San Leandro in 1964, the square was declared an official city landmark the following year and earned a place on the national historic register in 1982. In 1996 the annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival began, which still continues to this day.
Though the square doesn’t look exactly as it did when Domingo first began his chocolate company, the history has been preserved over the years. The clock tower built in 1915 to honor Domingo still remains, as well as the unmistakable Ghirardelli sign towering over the square itself. Visitors can still shop in the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop, which served as the original Ghirardelli Square chocolate manufactory.
And of course, they can also sample some of the chocolate products that made this historic San Francisco landmark possible.