The city hall of San Francisco is one of the countrys most magnificent Beaux-Arts buildings. It is an enormous building, occupying two city blocks. Its central dome is even taller than that of theUnited States CapitolinWashington, D.C.
The city halls grandeur was a reflection of the growing importance of the city of San Francisco.
The current building replaced the Old City Hall which opened in 1899 after twenty-seven years of construction. In 1906, only seven years after its completion, this domed building was destroyed by the disastrous earthquake of 1906.
In 1912 a competition was organized to choose a design for a new city hall, which was to be the central building of the plannedCivic Center. The winning proposal was submitted by Arthur Brown, the architect responsible for many other buildings in San Francisco, including the Opera House and theCoit Tower.
Browns classical design was influenced by his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts inParis. The building, constructed between 1913 and 1915, uses many classical design elements like the portico and doric columns. TheDôme des Invalides in Parisserved as the inspiration for the huge dome.
The city halls interior features beautiful stuccoed walls and ceilings, marble floors and a monumental marble staircase flanked by elegant lanterns.
On October 17, 1989 an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 hit San Francisco, damaging the City Hall. Its dome had moved four inches (ten centimeters) 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 the building seismic-proof. This was achieved by isolating the building from its foundation by installing an isolation layer of rubber and steel discs under the building. The layer protects the historic building by absorbing the seismic shocks.