Heineman Building – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

Heineman Building

This tall and trim architectural oddity is one of the skinniest buildings in San Francisco. 


Located in San Francisco’s busy Financial District, you could almost walk by this slender sliver almost without noticing it. It’s rather dwarfed by the buildings on either side, and has no signs or distinguishing features at first glance.

Originally a necktie, belt, and suspender factory commissioned by HM Heineman, the tall and thin structure was built in 1910 by architect GA Applegath and was one of the first buildings in the area after the devastating 1906 earthquake. Applegath knew he was working with something barely the width of a house lot—only some 20 feet wide—but he went 10 stories high nonetheless.

The building goes back a distance too—some 80 feet—which helped make up for the diminutive width. And though comparisons to toothpicks and nails have been made, this Gothic-fronted delight is decorated with glazed terra cotta tiles and crown-like adornments on the roof. There are hammered copper panels on every floor, and specially bowed windows with prisms direct the limited sunlight into every area.

At the time, the Heineman, now known as 130 Bush, was the most impressive building in what was then the garment neighborhood, but the factory only lasted around 20 years before it was converted into more standard office spaces. By then, two buildings had grown up alongside it, and they seemed to make the skinny oddity stand out even more. 

Know Before You Go

Located in the heart of the Financial District in downtown San Francisco, just off Market Street. 

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September 2, 2019

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  • Norm Ishimoto, SF resident and former tenant
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