The San Francisco City Hall is one of United States? grandest Beaux-Arts structures located at the heart of the metropolis? Civic Center. It was built during the height of the City Beautiful movement, an initiative to make cities more beautiful through grand structures which peaked during the 1890s and the 1900s. The San Francisco City Hall became operational in 1915 and is actually the city?s second seat of San Francisco?s government after the 1906 great earthquake obliterated the original one.
The design of the current San Francisco City Hall was chosen via a competition for what would be the centerpiece of the proposed Civic Center back in 1912. Acclaimed architect Arthur Brown won the competition. Brown is also the architect behind other popular buildings in the city which include the Coit Tower and the Opera House. Brown?s design for the San Francisco City Hall was greatly influenced by his the education he obtained from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts which is a trailblazing architecture in Paris.
Construction of the building took place from 1913 to 1915. The building occupies over 500,000 square feet spanning two full city blocks. The sheer size of the city hall of the building adds to its grandeur. Brown infused numerous classical aesthetic elements into the interior and exterior of the San Francisco Hall like the Doric columns in its fa?ade and the portico cladded with granite.
Arguably the most magnificent feature of San Francisco City Hall?s exterior is its dome which was significantly inspired by the Baroque dome of Les Invalides in Paris which was created by Mansart. San Francisco City Hall?s dome is the fifth biggest dome in the world and is 14 inches taller than that found in the United States Capitol in Washington. The dome is an iconic structure in San Francisco?s skyline and is beautifully lighted at night.
The interior of the city hall boasts of ornate stuccoed walls and ceiling, beautiful lanterns and marble floors. Inside, a grand and spacious Rotunda can be found with its upper levels open for the public. There is a grand staircase on the second floor and opposite that is the Mayor?s office. A few steps away from the City Mayor?s office are statues of past San Francisco mayors George Moscone and Diane Feinstein who assume the post after Moscone was assassinated just a few feet away from where the statues stand. Another statue found inside the San Francisco City Hall is that of former Harvy Milk who was controversial because of his sexuality and who was also murdered in the building.
Another earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1 hit San Francisco on October 17, 1989 which caused damage to the City Hall. The dome was displaced by 10 centimeters and its walls cracked. An overall repair was finished in 1999 which restored the building to its former glory. Aside from repair, anti-seismic mechanisms were added to the foundation of the San Francisco City Hall to make the structure earthquake-proof.