The most prominent landmark on Castro is 444 Castro Street, aka ‘Mountain Bay Plaza’. The building is now home to some high-profile companies such as 500 Startups, but there’s some great history leading up to 444 Castro’s current status as a start-up hub:
The building was designed with earthquakes in mind, and the construction was at the time fairly innovative apparently. The building cores and elevator shafts were erected first, and the floors were essentially hung, starting at the top floors, from these two pillars. I’m told there are three other examples of this same design– two I’ve seen, in San Jose and San Mateo, the other in Mexico City (I’ve been told that the one to the south withstood the huge 1985 Mexico City earthquake quite well, but I’ve never read anything to support that).
Things got… interesting after the building was constructed. Protracted problems with foreclosures, and a battle with City Hall over parking requirements (which was… left as an open item when the building was approved? City changed its mind after construction? Never quite understood how something so important could be left as a wild card on such a major building) caused the building to sit empty for a decade.
At some point, the building ownership became worried about the security of an empty 165,000 square foot structure. Did they hire security guards? Nope. An elite team of Doberman Pinchers were deployed in the lobby and held their ground for years, much to the amusement of, well, everyone. 444 Castro became known as The Dog Building.
The Dog Building was eventually purchased by Perini Development (who later acted as contractor for the City Hall/Performing Arts complex a few blocks away), who traded in the dogs and filled the building with lawyers. It’s changed hands several times since– the current ownership has done a nice job updating common areas and modernizing the building, and it is now attracting high rents and quality tenants. And very few dogs