An alternative journey through SAN FRANCISCO seen from the perspective of DIRTY HARRY filming locations

555 California

555 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94104-1503, USA


555 California Street, built in 1969 and known as the Bank of America Center until 2005, was in 1970, at the time of filming, the highest building in San Francisco and the main focal point of the city’s skyline. Since it gives wide panaramic views it is very fitting that a psycho of Scorpio’s calibre would choose such a stunning vantage point to kick start his reign of terror.

From the top of this building we see Scorpio peering down a rifle gunsight, the cross-hairs firmly trained on a young lady in a yellow swimsuit taking a dip in the Hilton rooftop pool some four blocks below.

We see very little of Scorpio at this stage – only his back, locks of unkempt hippy hair, the trademark black gloves, and the muzzle of a 7.7mm Arisaka Type 02 Paratrooper Takedown rifle. Then he pulls the trigger. The slug fizzes into the girl’s upper back, she gasps in distress, then dies.

The building features extensively during the opening credits of the film as Callahan is seen heading to its rooftop in search of evidence.

Scene-shot (00:02:11): While inspecting the dead girl's body by the rooftop swimming pool, Callahan glances up at 555 California (Bank of America Center) a few blocks to the south, the only feasible location for the shooter.


Completed in 1969 and standing 52 stories high, 555 California lasted only three years as San Francisco’s highest building (237m), being surpassed in 1972 – one year after the completion of Dirty Harry – by the Transamerica Pyramid (260m). Nevertheless, it’s still a striking skyscraper and worth a visit today in its own right.

Originally built to showcase the power, wealth and importance of the Bank of America, the building is designed with thousands of bay windows as a means to symbolise the bay window culture that is common throughout San Francisco real estate.

In September 2005 the property was purchased byNew York-based Hudson Waterfront Associates for $1.05 billion and renamed 555 California Street; up until this time it was always known as the Bank of America Center.

Access to the roof or even the upper floors to get a “Scorpio view” of the nearby Hilton rooftop pool was, however, strictly denied. In security-obsessed, paranoid modern America, where ogres lurk and bogeymen plot, if you haven’t got a pass – you’re not getting in.

Scene-shot (00:02:29) Approaching from the corner of Montgomery & Pine Streets Callahan (bottom centre, back to camera) heads towards 555 California (centre) in the hope of gathering evidence.

Scene-shot (00:02:41): As Callahan strides on from the corner of Pine & Montgomery Streets the camera pans up to the top of the Bank of America Center at 555 California, which was at the time of shooting in 1971 San Francisco's tallest building.

Scene-shot (00:02:41): Callahan surveying the rooftop of 555 Califiornia. Note the magnificent panoramic view and Bay Bridge in the background.

Scene-shot (00:04:23): Looking down from the top of 555 California, Callahan studies the Hilton rooftop pool from the very spot Scorpio fired the fatal shot.

Scene-shot (00:04:48): Turning away from the pool seconds before noticing the "thirty-ought-six" shell casing lying in the gravel - Scorpio's (un)intentional taunt to the police? Note the Golden Gate Bridge in the top right corner.

Scene-shot (00:05:21): Callahan reads Scorpio's note left on the rooftop of 555 California: "To the City of San Francisco, I will enjoy killing one person every day until you pay me one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000). If you agree say so tomorrow morning in Personal Column San Francisco Chronicle and I will set up meeting. If I do not hear from you it will be my next pleasure to kill a Catholic priest or a n......". Scorpio. Callahan has only one thing to say: "Jesus!".


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