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San Francisco City Hall - Beaux Arts At Its Best
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© Christine Till
The Beaux Arts City Hall is the crown jewel of San Francisco�s Civic Center and a monument to the brief City Beautiful movement that epitomized the high-minded American Renaissance from 1880-1917.
The trees of Civic Center Plaza that lead toward City Hall from the east and the War Memorial and Fulton Street that lead toward the City Hall from the west are similar to East Seaton Park and E. Capitol Street leading toward the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. However, San Francisco's City Hall central dome is almost a foot taller than that of the United States Capitol.
During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the old City Hall crumbled into rubble. It took three years and $3.5 million to build a new city hall. St. Peter�s in Rome was the inspiration for the splendid dome of City Hall, which actually consists of three domes layered on top of each other. Accidentally damaged during a renovation, the embellishment is now gold plated, glittering in the setting sun. The architects constructed the building with lighting in mind. The two light courts left and right of the entrance hall flood the area with warm daylight. The giant upper floor windows fill the area below the rotunda with a wonderful soft light. The meaningful decorations depict the age of discovery, human endeavors, and rights and mythology. The clock, lamps, figures, inscriptions, carvings, windows, and busts, beautiful stuccoed walls and ceilings, marble floors and a monumental marble staircase flanked by elegant lanterns, all tell a story.
On October 17, 1989 an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 hit San Francisco, damaging the City Hall again. Its dome had moved 4 inches (10cm) and cracks appeared in the wall. A thorough renovation, completed in 1999, not only repaired the damage; it also restored the building to its original splendor and made it seismic-proof. Its grandeur is a reflection of the growing importance of the City of San Francisco.
September 4th, 2012
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