Wednesday 12 April 2017

San Francisco Center Heart of City Beautiful Movement

The City Beautiful Movement arrived in San Francisco in 1904 when former mayor James Duval Phelan invited Daniel Burnham to town.  Burnham the architect of the Chicago World's Fair White City, was a student of classicism and the Beaux Arts.  He recommended a Civic Center at the heart of the city with boulevards radiating from it.  A landscaped park would begin at the Civic Center and extend to the Golden Gate Park panhandle.  A neo-classic library would overlook the Pacific Ocean.

The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 was a cloud with a silver lining.  Much of the city was destroyed but this now gave the city planners a blank canvas to work with.  The final say, however, would be up to the merchants.  The City Hall and the Exposition Auditorium were both completed in time for the Pan Pacific Exposition of 1915, an exhibit that Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder visited and wrote about in West From Home.  The War Memorial Opera House, the War Memorial Veterans Building, the Main Library and the State and Old Federal Buildings were completed in the 1920's and 1930's.  A central park, or civic center, brought all of the buildings together.  A reflective pool, surrounded by columns of London Plane trees, was the focus of the park.  Two banks, the Savings Union Bank and the Wells Fargo Bank, reflect the Beaux Arts design.

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