Before-and-after photos show 8 of San Francisco's most famous tourist attractions nearly deserted since the city was shut down


shelter in place san francisco golden gate bridge

  • San Francisco is currently under an order directing residents to remain indoors to contain the coronavirus disease.
  • Many of the city’s restaurants, bars, and other businesses have shuttered, and the streets are subsequently empty.
  • San Francisco’s most beloved tourist attractions are also all but deserted as people heed the shelter-in-place order.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

San Francisco is currently under a shelter-in-place order directing people to stay home to contain the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19.

Locals are remaining indoors as much as possible until May 3, though that deadline could be extended, and many restaurants, bars, retail shops, and other businesses are closed. 

As a result, foot traffic is minimal, leaving the city’s most beloved tourist attractions fairly desolate for the time being.

From the Golden Gate Bridge to the city’s iconic cable car lines, here’s what San Francisco’s top tourist sites usually look like — and how the usual crowds have emptied out amid the coronavirus outbreak.

SEE ALSO: I live in San Francisco and I’m in the middle of a 3-week shelter-in-place order to contain the coronavirus. Here’s what it’s been like.

San Francisco saw 26.2 million tourists in 2019, according to the San Francisco Travel Association.

Tourism is San Francisco’s largest private industry, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports — tourists spent $10 billion in the city in 2019.


As the streets of San Francisco thin out over coronavirus concerns, its biggest tourist attractions, like City Lights Bookstore, are currently much lonelier than usual.

Pier 39 is a shopping mall and tourist attraction just north of North Beach. Throngs of visitors usually clamor for a bowl of chowder or come to spot the sea lions lounging. nearby.

It’s now fenced off amid the regionwide shelter-in-place order.

Pier 39 is a part of Fisherman’s Wharf, where visitors dine on seafood and stroll along the waterfront.

It’s all but a ghost town now.

Lombard Street is known as one of the world’s “crookedest” streets. Visitors regularly flock to either walk or drive down the iconic stretch.

But on the first day of the shelter-in-place order, no one was walking or driving on Lombard as thousands hunkered down in their homes.

Similarly, a jaunt through San Francisco’s Chinatown District is a must if you’re visiting the city — or if you live here.

But the neighborhood is also empty amid the order.

Chinatown businesses have been seeing sales drop long before the order went into effect. The district, as well as many in the Asian-American community, have experienced xenophobia and racism in the face of the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China.

To the north of the city is its signature Golden Gate Bridge — 112,000 vehicles usually cross the span each day.

Source: The Mercury News

That number has slowed to a crawl since the order went into effect, costing the bridge and its governing body $300,000 in toll revenue a day.

Source: Business Insider

The city’s premiere shopping destination, Union Square, is also a common spot to visit. It’s located near the bustling Financial District.

It was cleared out on the first day of the shelter-in-place order, save for a few people.

Locals and tourists alike typically frequent the many shops near the square, like Uniqlo, H&M, and Macy’s.

But now, windows are boarded up in some shopfronts and the streets are devoid of cars.

Cable car rides are also at the top of the list for many visitors.

But the city shut the iconic cars down to protect operators from contracting the coronavirus.

The cable cars didn’t have closed cabs that separated operators from riders.