Wonderful building with almost one century, and recently prepared to support seismic activity, its dome is taller than the Capitol in Washington.
It gives a different touch to the diversity of town.
The majestic San Francisco City Hall was designed by American architect Arthur Brown, who largely drew his inspiration from Les Invalides in Paris, and it was completed in 1915. It is famous for being the place where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe got married in 1954, and sadly it is also remembered for being the place where Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were killed in 1978. Tours of City Hall are offered on weekdays at 10:00 am, 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to go on one since we got there late in the afternoon, so instead we just took a quick peak inside the building (open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays). I wish we could have gotten there earlier as the sun was at a bad angle for pictures. Also, the City Hall Plaza that stretches in front of the building was filled with homeless people; they seemed pretty harmless, but once we were done taking pictures we didn't feel like lingering around either. We headed back towards Van Ness Avenue, taking time along the way to admire the War Memorial Opera House and Veterans Building, two other buildings designed by Arthur Brown and completed in 1932.
One of My All time favorite Movies was A View to A Kill where James Bond Rescued Tanya Roberts at the Burning San Francisco City Hall (off course that was just props) but from then the Beautiful American Rennaisance Vistas like birdcage elevators, crystal chandeliers, oak paneling and skylights, inside the city hall were forever etched in my mind plus it is here where you can buy transit passes, process your passport, pay your water bill, take care of business and property taxes, get a license and register to vote. You can also rent various rooms for posh events such as weddings, parties and galas.
Opens 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
We walked past the saddest looking vagrants to get into City Hall. The original City Hall was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake; it was rebuilt in 1915. The building is vast, totalling over 500,000 square feet occupying two full blocks of San Francisco. It is 390 feet (119 m) long on Van Ness Avenue and Polk Street, by 273 feet, 3 inches (83.25 m) on Grove and McAllister Streets. Its dome, which owes much to Mansart's Baroque dome of Les Invalides, Paris, is the fifth largest dome in the world, rising 307.5 feet (94 m) above the Civic Center Historic District. It is fourteen inches (35 cm) higher than the United States Capitol, and has a diameter of 66 feet (20 m), resting upon 4 x 50 ton (3.5 x 44.5 metric ton) and 4 x 20 ton girders (3.5 x 17.8 ton), each 9 feet (2.7 m) deep and 60 feet (18 m) long.
Once inside the Rotunda is a spectacular space. We climbed the grand staircase, to the second floor, entering offices of the Mayor. and other's. We shopped in the gift shop and wandered around. Ironically, we believe a credit card number was stolen after it was used in the gift shop.
Inside the SF City Hall is a spacious rotunda and grand flight of stairs upon which many famous events have occurred. First, President Warren G. Harding's body laid in state in the rotunda after he died of a heart attack at the Palace Hotel in 1923. The tradition of marriages at the rotunda, especially on the landing at the top of the flight of stairs, certainly precedes the famed marriage of Joe DiMaggio to Marilyn Monroe in 1954, as civil marriages are a California tradition overall. The fame of this place for marriage was no doubt enhanced when Mayor Gavin Newsome deliberately broke state law and presided over same-sex marriages in 2004. Tourists to the rotunda will find on any given time a multiple of vows being given for heterosexual marriages even now. The City Hall and it's rotunda have been the scene for many movies, including Raider's of the Lost Ark. The City Hall Rotunda has also been a place of tragedy. In 1978, former SF supervisor, Dan White, gunned down then Mayor Art Agnos and Castro District gay Supervisor Harvey Milk. In May 1960, the main rotunda was a site of a student protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee and a countering police action whereby students from UC Berkeley, Stanford, and other local colleges were fire hosed down the steps. This event would be memorialized by students during the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley four years later--a radicalization of university student political activism that had since spread to all American, European, and Latin American Universities, and arguably inspired heroic as events as at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Inside the SF City Hall Dome are busts of former mayors Agnos and Feinstein, and soon a bust of Harvey Milk is due to be unveiled.
City Hall Dome of San Francisco is arguably more impressive than the dome at the State Capitol in Sacramento and it 14 inches higher than the United States Capitol Building. From inside the rotunda, the dome is open and wonderfully large and impressive, and although accessible to wheelchairs and the disabled, one must go through a metal detector and security gauntlet to enter. Constructed to replace the previous dome destroyed during the 1906 earthquake and fire, the architectural details are the work of architect Arthur Brown, Jr., who also designed Coit Tower, War Memorial Opera House, and the Federal Building at 50 United Nations Plaza, among other major buildings in town. The dome is essentially a concrete and steel shell with granite and limestone facing, inside and out. It is faced with Madera County granite on the exterior, and Indiana sandstone within, together with finish marbles from Alabama, Colorado, Vermont, and even Italy.
The previous City Hall was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. Out of the ashes this new structure was built. But in 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake severely damaged the building. A renovation occurred thereafter and the building was strengthened. A "base isolator" system was installed to absorb energy during a major earthquake and thus help the building survive the next "big one".
This beautiful building houses the seat of San Francisco's government.
The dome is covered with gold leaf. Somehow former Mayor Willie Brown found the funding to replace deteriorated decoration, so a change order to the renovation project was issued. Marble floors enhance the large open interior lobby. The hearing rooms and offices retain wonderful wood paneling.
The building is open to the public and is worth a visit. A rotating art display is often occurring on the basement level. Also on the lower level, is a display concerning the base isolator seismic resistance system. The Board of Supervisors hearings and their committee hearings are open to the public. These can be fairly boring as the Board might be discussing a budget for sewer repairs, or they can be extremely entertaining as the Board discusses more lively non-essential items, like making further developments to the City's "foreign policy". Visitors to the building are subject to a security screening.
this is one of the fanciest and most luxurious city halls compared to the rest of the US, so was told by my tour guide.
this city hall is the only place in SF that has been restructured on suspensor so it's more durable and less vulnerable to earthquakes. after the famous earthquake and fire that hit SF 100 years ago, and the whole city is still not ready for earthquake, this place is the only shelter!
apart from this history, which i'm not good at, the place is a piece of art. it hosts more than 2000 couples a year, between having a luxurious wedding and a walk-in ceremony. amazing!
the dome of this building is the fifth biggest dome in the world after the Vatican Dome and St Paul's Cathedral in London - yes, they've got it here in san francisco:D
the building itself consists of four floors, the lobby, exhibition hall, the mayor's office and other areas that are not open to the public. there is also a free tour around the building, 3 times a day; at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. each tour lasts for an hour on average.
i was privileged to have special access to the Supervisors' room which is closed to the public; where they select mayors among themselves i think! since i was the only who showed up for the free tour, my guide was happy to show me such a beautiful room; wooden doors from china, carved ceiling by french and italian architects, and just a piece of art.
San Francisco's City Hall reigns as one of the most important buildings in America with its massive dome, which is one of the world's largest and its distinctive architecture, which extends for two full blocks (picture 2).
CITY HALL FACTS:
This national landmark was designed by architect, Arthur Brown, Jr. and completed in 1915.
Other prominent buildings designed by Brown were the San Francisco Opera House, Veterans Building, Temple Emanuel, Coit Tower and 50 United Nations Plaza.
The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged City Hall
A 'base isolation system' was recommended by engineers to protect City Hall from any further damage. It involves a four foot moat around the building, which allows it to move from side to side.
This work begun in 1995 and is now finished, making it the largest base isolated building in the world.
A 'Light Court' on the main floor features marble walls and skylights throughout and was created for special public events.
City Hall has four hearing rooms, includes a city payment center and contains departments for 1000 employees.
An imposing facade and dome that looks like St Paul of Vatican City.
This restored landmark historical building is open for rental for public and private events.
Realized that the State Capital of California is in Sacremento, not San Francisco.
San Francisco has a large, magnificent old city hall that replaced the prior one destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. It underwent major renovation in the 1990s and is beautiful and sparkling inside and out. It possesses a grand central court and staircase under the dome and one can walk through much of it. There are also tours, displays on the construction of the building, and displays on the prior city hall.
The area also has a large park/square, as well as other government buildings, courts, art galleries/museums, as well as concert and opera houses. Many of these are right next to the city hall.
Even though San Francisco has less than a million inhabitants, it has one of the biggest and most beautiful city halls in the US, with a dome taller than that of the Capitol in Washington DC. San Francisco City Hall, which opened in 1916 after the old City Hall was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, is one of the best examples of Beaux Arts architecture in the world, and it is considered to have one of the most important interior spaces in the United States.
Just in front of San Francisco City Hall you will find a large equestrian statue of Simon Bolivar. I always like to see the various equestrian statues in different cities when I travel. If you decide to visit the City Hall and the Bolivar statue keep in mind that the neighborhood surrounding this area is not considered one of the safest in San Francisco. There should not be any problems if you visit in the afternoon but I would advise anyone to be more careful in the early evening hours if you are still in this area.
If you have read any of my travel pages you will know that I am a big James Bond fan and like to document James Bond movie sites in my travel tips. The James Bond film A View To A Kill was filmed in San Francisco. In the film the City Hall building is shown catching on fire with flames flying out of the windows. I am happy to report that unlike the movie, the City Hall building has not burned down and is still standing. The building itself reminds me of the US Capitol in appearance although I read on the internet that the dome was modeled from the one on St. Peter's in Rome. The building was opened in 1916 and is considered to have the fifth largest dome in the world.
San Francisco City Hall, we had not in mind stopping to visit it, but while on the bus we saw a market at the street so we got down the bus and saw at the end the city hall (I think we were in bus line 21, but not sure).
You can see Bolivar statue and lots of hearts on the way to the entrance.
It seems that you can join some of the group tours they do. Check on their web site.