Opened in 1915, the San Francisco City Hall by Bakewell & Brown is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece featuring the fifth largest dome in the world, taller than that of the United States Capitol. Its 500,000 square feet occupy two city blocks.
How majestic is this dome?
Bakewell & Brown’s Arthur Brown, Jr. was known for his attention to detail, including the design of doorknobs and signage lettering:
The soaring rotunda dominates the experience of the interior. Here’s a shot looking down at the front entrance:
Of course the grand staircase has an ornate banister:
Right below the dome is a popular spot of the exchanging of vows. Out of respect, I didn’t photograph the small parties but, although I’m sure their photos are lovely, the ceremonies themselves seems absurd — like clockwork, a group of people gets shuttled in, reciting vows as quickly as possible and pausing for some photos before being shuttled out and replaced by another small group. How many of these do they do each day?
The detail in this rotunda is so, so worth checking out!
The ornate details continue:
Outside the mayor’s chambers, a bust of Harvey Milk who, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, became the first openly gay elected official in 1978 until his assasination by former Supervisor Dan White [he of the Twinkie Defense]:
Arthur Brown, Jr. is probably best known for his design of Coit Tower, which I toured about six years ago on a San Francisco City Guides tour, a fantastic organization that led this City Hall and the Civic Center tour on my most recent visit. Unfortunately, my guide this time was more interested in sharing state and city history [with which I’m already quite familiar] than the details of the architecture and interior of this building.
In any case, these tours are free, and I really can’t recommend them enough — there are about 90 walking tours total, which can occupy me on more visits to San Francisco than I’ll probably make in the time I have left on earth.