The Palace of Fine Arts was built in 1915 for San Francisco’s world’s fair, officially called the Panama Pacific International Exposition in honor of the opening of the Panama Canal in August 1914. All of the buildings of the fair were supposed to be torn down right after the fair closed but the Palace was spared and then renovated a few times over the years and is now celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Some of our Irish cousins — Claire and her husband Peter and their twin daughters Emma and Ciarra — visited our country, state and city recently and we spent two days showing them the sites. On Day One we concentrated on Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and other attractions in the city’s North Beach area. Then we brought them to our home in Castro Valley and dinner at an Italian restaurant (Baci Bistro and Bar) in Pleasanton. On Day Two we drove them to the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito, stopping along the way at the Palace of Fine Arts.
The Palace was designed by Bernard Maybeck, a popular architect associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early 20th Century. It was built of wood and then covered with a mixture of plaster and burlap- type fiber. In the 1960s it was rebuilt in concrete and steel. Another renovation project began in 2005 and was completed in 2010. It is currently one of the most popular spots in San Francisco, especially for weddings and wedding photography.
The Palace was the home to the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s famed science museum, from 1969 until 2013 when that institution moved to its present location at Pier 15 on The Embarcadero. The City’s Parks and Recreation Department has recently sent out a request for proposals for leasing of the Palace and grounds. There have been more than a half-dozen proposals submitted so far and we should find out soon what the future will hold for the Palace. Right now the admission is free. I hope it stays that way!
We then drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and had lunch in Sausalito before returning to see more San Francisco landmarks. Stay tuned for more pictures from this trip.