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San Franscisco's Original Chocolate Company
When Domingo Ghirardelli immigrated to the United States in 1849, he planned to strike it rich in the California gold rush. Unsuccessful, he opened a store in Stockton selling supplies and some confections to other hopeful miners. Flash forward a few years (and failed businesses), and Ghirardelli opened another confectionary company called Ghiradely & Gerard, which would lay the foundation for today’s Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Chocolate was made on San Francisco's northern waterfront for many years but eventually moved out of the city. Luckily the buildings still stand, including the historic power plant with clock tower. Two floors were added to a warehouse in 1923, and atop those the famous 15-foot-high letters spelling out “Ghirardelli." Though the company continues to make chocolate, it is no longer owned by the Ghirardelli family. Still, there are plenty of reasons to visit the brick buildings that have been transformed into a thriving marketplace with restaurants, art galleries, shops, a wine tasting room, and of course, a place to taste and buy Ghirardelli chocolate, a true San Francisco original. The square also hosts some poplar San Francisco events including an annual Christmas tree lighting and a chocolate festival held each September.