San Francisco City Hall 101: All the Basics You Need to Know
San Francisco City Hall is located on Polk and Grove streets in the Civic Center of San Francisco. The structure was built from 1866 and 1915 and is a beautiful example of classical architecture with Romanesque Revival style. It's very close to many other major tourist attractions, so if you're planning a trip to San Francisco, it might be something to consider seeing. However, this article will help you not only learn about the building but also provide some tips for getting there via public transit or driving your own vehicle.
San Francisco City Hall has won numerous awards over the years for its architectural flare. It was named by Travel & Leisure as one of the 15 most beautiful city halls in the world and one of America's best public spaces by the American Planning Association. City Hall was also named a National Historic Landmark in 1978 and has been on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places since October 15, 1966. Just outside of City Hall is an open lawn that includes several memorials such as the Federal Pioneer monument and the California Registered Architects' Memorial for those who designed parts of San Francisco while helping to design parts elsewhere in California and across the country.
When designing this building, architects Arthur Brown Jr., Charles Donagh Maginnis and Thomas Walsh used two different architectural styles: Beaux-Arts Classicism (seen on most other famous city halls throughout Europe) and Romanesque Revival style (a nod to the California Gold Rush). The exterior of City Hall is made of granite and sandstone while the interior uses marble. Atop the dome sits a 22-foot, 6-inch statue called "Pax" sculpted by artist Haig Patigian.
The building has had many tenants over the years including San Francisco mayor (for 48 days), Dianne Feinstein, who did not run for re-election in 1978 but did run again in 1983. She won that election and became mayor once more; she held office until 1988 when she was elected to represent California in the U.S. Senate where she's currently serving her fifth term after being re-elected in 1994, 2000, 2006 2012. There are four main areas within San Francisco City Hall: the mayor's office, Board of Supervisors room, the Main Lobbies and the 9th floor where you can find notable works of art. The Main Lobby also has beautiful murals depicting California history on its walls.
From here, there are several different ways to check out what this building has to offer. You can take a guided tour that includes the mayor's office (the only way most people will be able to see this) or just visit it on your own time during public hours between 8 am and 8 pm daily except for Sunday when hours run from 10 am-6 pm. If you want to visit on your own time, visitors must first go through security which is no joke; make sure all your personal belongings are in bags and such so you don't feel the need to empty your pockets, but there's no metal detector.
If you want to visit San Francisco City Hall with a guided tour, you can check out their website for times and dates as well as for information about other tours offered. All visitors must first register at the Visitor Services desk which is located on the 9th floor of City Hall right above where the mayor works. The guides will provide you with all the information that they've learned from years of researching this subject matter and give you an opportunity to ask questions as well throughout the tour. It's best not to bring large backpacks or luggage as it might slow down your entry process as well as make it harder for others to walk around you.
There are several other ways you can check out San Francisco City Hall besides taking one of the guided tours or visiting on your own time during public hours. You can access the 9th floor via the self-guided audio tour which is available in nine different languages including English, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese to name a few. If you want to test out your acoustics for any reason, there's also an auditorium that seats 100 people with impressive acoustics that hosts many different types of events including ones held by local organizations who seek fundraising opportunities since this building provides an excellent venue.
You can't get lost because there are signs plastered all over pointing you in the right direction just in case anyone gets turned around. There are also signs in the bathrooms pointing you to the nearest exits. Other signs will show you where you can find water fountains, elevators and stairs in case of any emergencies when everyone must evacuate the building. As long as you follow all instructions given by police or firefighters, there's nothing to worry about when it comes to safety because City Hall is equipped with its own generator which keeps public areas bright during power outages so everyone can see what they're doing while following all exit procedures outlined on signage.
City Hall has hosted many notable events over the years including visits from major world leaders like Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Pope John Paul II.