Thursday, July 3, 2014

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco

One of my favorite architectural monuments anywhere is the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. I find myself visiting this location every time I'm in the city.
Built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition the structure was intended to only be temporary.
However it proved to be so popular it was left standing long after the exposition thanks to Phoebe Hearst.
By 1965 the 'temporary' nature of the materials was evident and the palace was in ruins. It was torn down and rebuilt of steel and lightweight concrete. Later still it was reinforced for earthquakes.
Originally designed by local architect Bernard Maybeck the structure is a fantasy of Greek and Roman architecture.
 I've always wondered what these women statues were looking at!
 The detail work is still crisp and beautiful.
Notice the scale: it's so immense that people look like ants and barely show up in photographs! As always you can click on the photos to view them larger.
I wish these stepped planters were in use -it would look phenomenal with creeping vines, boxwood, rosebushes, etc.
You probably recognize the Palace of Fine Arts from numerous fashion shoots and advertisements.  I remember a lot of car advertisements from the 70s and 80s.
 The interior of the dome is no less grand.
Again notice the scale of the urns -the door to the lower right hand corner above is probably 7'-0" tall and has a transom over it.
The Palace of Fine Arts sits in the Marina district -a residential neighborhood. Those are some lucky houses with quite the view!
We were lucky to have a gorgeous day to wander around the marina and the Palace of Fine Arts.  It's rather remote away from other touristy areas so never seems to be too crowded in my limited experience.
If you find yourself in San Francisco make sure to visit the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District, you won't regret it!


The Swan said...

'INTROSPECTION' is the title of the female sculptures peering into the top of the colonnade...Ulrich Ellerhusen was the sculptor. The theme of the Panama. Pacific International Exhibition was based on Beauty.
I vaguely recall Mrs. Spreckels had a little something to do with bringing the exhibition to San Francisco...which at the time was trying to lift itself out of the Barbary Coast lore into the realm of Cosmopolitan City of the World!

Hels said...

I hadn't known of (or remembered at my advanced age) the connection to Phoebe Hearst. She was quite a woman, and not just because of the Museum of Anthropology.

Mostly let me sat that your photos are super! I have created a link to San Francisco and the earth quake.

Karena Albert said...

Fascinating information and absolutely incredible, those urns and the lady sculptures, such an iconic landmark in San Francisco.

Have a great weekend Stefan!

The Arts by Karena

Stephilius said...

I've always loved it; so fun. The detail and the proportions - I'm 6'4", and I always really enjoy things that are ridiculously overscaled. : )

columnist said...

I truly enjoyed my visit on the last visit to SF, which was soo long ago. I didn't really know anything about it before, but we were lucky to be staying with friends who lived in the city, and they played tour guide. Thank you for the background. If I was told it then, I had long forgotten it.

Michael Hampton said...

It is one of my favorite places in the city too. The Palace of Fine Arts represents one of the finest examples of American Beaux Arts style architecture. As a kid I remember scaling the walls and climbing up as high as I could. I was always fascinated by the maidens on the entablatures, wondering what they were looking at too!

The weather looks like it could have been more perfect!

Slim Paley said...

Hi Stefan!
I'm ashamed to admit that I've never visited the Monument :-( I will put it on my list for the next time I'm in S.F.
Happy 4th of July to you!

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

Going to SF in the fall and we will definitely stop to see this. Amazing remains from a 1915 folly of architectural beauty. I love when things meant to be fleeting remain and are left to appreciate.
Enjoyed all your CA vacation posts, you made the most out do your time. Bravo and thanks for sharing.

Mark Ruffner said...

Hi, Stefan,

How great it is that the Palace of the Fine Arts was rebuilt to become permanent! I doubt that such an undertaking would happen today, sad to say. What I love about the scale is that it is like a Piranesi etching come to life!

Glamour Drops said...

It's our luck that the temporary became the permanent - for this is one of the most astonishing examples of display architecture anywhere.

Remember studying about this in architectural history at university, but the photographs we had were absolutely nothing compared with your brilliantly clear ones. (Admittedly, it was rather a while ago that I was at uni…but I digress from your wonderful post here.)

San Francisco keeps moving into the "must see" city lists of mine. This place is yet another good excuse to go!