How Much Do You Really Know About San Francisco City Hall?
San Francisco City Hall is one of the most iconic buildings in San Francisco, but you might not know everything about it. This article will tell you some interesting facts about this modern architectural marvel that you might not already know!
San Francisco's city hall is built on an entire block of land near the Civic Center District. However, it has been speculated that portions of Central America were once where San Francisco now stands. It was named Yerba Buena by Spanish Captain Juan Bautista de Anza in 1776, and was later renamed Saint Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi by Father Luis Gil y Taboada after New Mexico Governor Pedro Fermín de Mendinueta started calling it so in 1777. It became San Francisco officially in 1846, after the Mexican-American war.
San Francisco City Hall is the oldest city hall building west of the Mississippi River still existing, and second oldest city hall overall next to Philadelphia City Hall built in 1901. The number "2" was carved into California's state seal above its entrance to represent being the second state capital, because California has been a state for only about 51 years of U.S. history!
The design of San Francisco City Hall looks very similar to Independence Hall in Philadelphia where the United States Declaration of Independence from Great Britain was signed. A bald eagle wherever you look on both buildings symbolizes America's freedom from Europe and monarchy rule wherever they may have been at that time. This is why there are bald eagles all over San Francisco City Hall and the U.S. Capitol building and wings of the White House, because these buildings represent America's freedom from European rule!
San Francisco's current city hall was built in 1915 and its original blueprint has been lost to history. Its construction began quickly on December 8th, 1913 after plans were laid out by Victor Hammer (brother-in-law to architect Louis Christian Mullgardt) on July 13th, 1913. It cost $3M USD to build at that time which is equivalent to about $75 million in today's dollars, but it was worth every penny back then considering how much more expensive things used to be before inflation! Although it took less than 3 years to build this building, modern skyscraper construction cycles are more like 7-8 years on average because of increased complexity in planning and approvals.
San Francisco City Hall is one of the most earthquake-resistant buildings in all of California, which is part of the reason why it's still standing 100 years later after its completion! When you come visit San Francisco, please make sure to take a tour inside San Francisco City Hall whenever you get the chance so you can learn even more about this architectural masterpiece!
Why Get Married at San Francisco City Hall?
Getting married at San Francisco City Hall is an excellent idea for two reasons. First, it's the best bargain in the wedding industry.
To wed at San Francisco City Hall, couples must submit their applications three months before the planned wedding date. The expenses associated with getting married here, including a marriage license, depend on the specific services needed. In 2023, a marriage license costs $113, while a civil ceremony is priced at $95. For a Rotunda wedding with no more than six guests, the overall expense amounts to $208.
The second reason to get married at San Francisco City Hall is its world-class appeal as a unique and stunning backdrop for wedding photography without the need for a photography permit. Photographers can make the most of the entire building, capturing memories in various locations regardless of whether couples opt for a small rotunda wedding or splurge on the Mayor's balcony or a 4th-floor North Light Court rental.
Moreover, there are no time limits for weekday photo sessions at San Francisco City Hall (See below for weekend rates). With proper planning, couples can capture hundreds of images in dozens of unique settings.
If you're considering having your wedding at San Francisco City Hall, be aware that San Francisco City Hall is closed on public holidays, which include New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, and Labor Day. It is open on weekdays from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm, and closed on weekends
Weddings can be held Monday through Friday from 9:00 am - 3:30PM. Weekends are available for private rentals only. Here is a summary of costs for weekend weddings at City Hall:
Rental rates vary based on the area desired, guest count, and additional services:
Rotunda and One Light Court (4th Floor) (1-499 guests): $10,000
Rotunda and Both Light Courts (4th Floor)(1-999 guests): $12,500; for larger guest counts, rates increase up to $30,000 for 2,500-3,000 guests
North Light Court (1-870 guests): $5,000, plus $4/guest over 200
South Light Court (1-600 guests): $5,000, plus $4/guest over 200
Late Access (Load-out): $500/hour, subject to approval
Set-up Day: 50% of Rent, subject to approval
For more information please consult City Hallʻs Events page.