San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco, California | C.1868

Photo Credit: Erol Ahmed

What do Marilyn Monroe, Beaux-Arts architecture, a building dubbed “The People’s Palace,” and Raiders of the Lost Ark all have in common? They each have a connection to San Francisco’s City Hall! 

Construction for the city’s original City Hall building began in 1870. It took 27 years and six million dollars to complete, and only nine years after its completion, the building was completely destroyed in mere seconds by the 1906 earthquake and fire. By 1915, though, resilient San Franciscans rebuilt the City Hall (lovingly referred to as The People’s Palace) seen today. The magnificent Beaux-Arts style building features excruciating detail in every corner from intricate plaster work to specially designed doorknobs, all topped by a dome taller than that of the US Capitol. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were married in City Hall in 1954. In popular culture, the building was featured in numerous films, including Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). 

City Hall also houses memorials of important San Franciscans including a bust of Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in the building. It is evident the building serves as both a breathtaking architectural feat as well as a place to memorialize the city’s rich, if somewhat tumultuous, history. 

Written By: Ellie Hoffman

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