Nestled in the fun and poppy ambiance of the San Francisco’s Mission District, the Armory stands out, bringing to mind images of “The Wall” from Game of Thrones.
The 200,000 fortress was constructed in 1912 to house the San Francisco National Guard. After about 60 years, the Guard relocated to Fort Funston in 1976, leaving the Armory vacant for the next 30 years. The building saw occasional use. The San Francisco opera would sometimes rehearse there, and some interior spaceship scenes were shot for the original Star Wars Movie. But, for the most part, the building fell into progressive disrepair over the next three decades.
Various uses for the building were proposed (rock climbing gym, self-storage units, low income housing, and more). But nothing really took hold until Kink.com entered the scene in 2007 with a 14.5 million bid to buy the property. As you might guess from the name, it’s a porn company, with 20+ subsidiary websites.
The Armory is open to the public for tours. As part of her bachelorette party, one of my friends had a tour for our group there. Kink.com is a BDSM site, so the tour isn’t for the faint of heart, weak of stomach or closed-minded. (Yelp can give you a more well-rounded idea of what to expect.)
Our tour guide, Rowen, brought a lot of personality to the tour, and was also very professional. He also had an affinity for puns, which quickly won me over.
You get behind the scenes glimpses of the pornography studios, and also get to see some of the preserved architecture. The tone of the tour reminded me a little of the tram studio tour at Universal Studios. You get silly jokes, interesting anecdotes, and historical backstories.
Apparently, there is a natural stream that flows under the Armory, which resulted in the basement being flooded. As a result, Armory has to have four pumps running 24/7 to keep the waters at bay. There’s still even a small stream left.
All in all, this was a fun bachelorette activity! If you’re in the neighborhood, check it out!