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"Souvenir of the Palace Hotel"
An Illustrated Booklet with 12 Captioned Photographs as published by
The Palace Hotel, San Francisco (c. 1895).
the Palace Hotel from
"Historical Souvenir of San Francisco, Cal."
as published by
C.P. Heininger, San Francisco (1887).
published by the new
Palace Hotel, San Francisco (1922).
A total of more than
~ 125 ~
& Original Modern Photographs,
Images, and Illustrations.
Opened on October 2, 1875, the original Palace Hotel was the glorious final "gift" of the colorful -- but ill-fated -- William Chapman Ralston to his adopted home city of San Francisco. Born in Ohio on January 12, 1826, Ralston, an agent -- and sometimes even last minute captain -- of Gold Rush steamers that ferried thousands of gold-seekers to California from Panama, was 28 when he finally settled himself in the still wild young city by the Bay in 1854. By the time he co-founded the Bank of California there a decade later in 1864, the energetic and innovative Ralston was already on his way to becoming one of the city's -- and the West's -- wealthiest and most important men. The same year that he opened the bank, Ralston also began building a magnificent summer home called "Ralston Hall" on his recently purchased 14-acre estate named "Belmont" located twenty-five miles south of the city. (The magnificent four-story, eighty-room, 55,360 square foot mansion that resulted still stands there today as a glorious example of this golden era.) Many of Ralston Hall's magnificent architectural features such as its stately dining room, a 28' x 61' mirrored "Versailles" ballroom, an "opera box" gallery encircling the grand staircase leading to the second floor modeled after the Paris Opera House, and the classic columns and crystal chandeliers in its foyer all presaged the design of similar features incorporated into the design of the Palace Hotel a decade later.
As with the buildings themselves, Ralston spared no expense in the sumptuous furnishing and decorating of the mansion, guest quarters, and stables at Belmont. "Books and paintings were sometimes bought wholesale," notes Amelia Ransome Neville in "The Fantastic City -Memoirs of the Social and Romantic Life of Old San Francisco." "When he was furnishing Belmont, he called one day at the studio of Thomas Hill where the walls were covered with the artist's paintings. Mr. Ralston glanced about. 'How much for the lot?' he asked. A generous price was paid and Hill's landscapes were hung all over Belmont." [In 1881, Hill completed his most famous and ambitious work, "The Last Spike," depicting the joining of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads at Promontory Summit, U.T., on May 10, 1969, and published a booklet about the massive work at the same time.]
After twenty years in San Francisco building his fame and fortune, however, by the summer of 1875 W.C. Ralston's highly leveraged empire had fallen into deep financial peril. He was finally wiped out completely when the Bank of California collapsed after its depositors and other investors panicked as the result of a mining stock fraud involving what proved to be mostly worthless mines along and near the grades of the Central Pacific, Union Pacific, and Virginia & Truckee Railroads. After a $1,400,000 one day run on the Bank, its directors called in Ralston, who by then was President of the Bank, on August 27, 1875, and forced him to relinquish control of his institution. Although Ralston was said to have taken the news with equanimity, just hours later the 49-year old entrepreneur's body was found floating in San Francisco Bay just off Meigg's Wharf. Although he swam in the Bay there almost daily, the events of a few hours earlier left many suspecting that Ralston's death was a suicide by drowning. However an autopsy and Coroner's inquest -- on which depended the payment of life insurance to Ralston's widow and their four children -- ruled that he had not drowned as a suicide, but instead died of an "apoplectic stroke." A reported 50,000 San Franciscans lined the streets of the city for miles to watch the passage of his lavish funeral cortege from Union Square.
While Ralston had depended heavily on his shaky banking empire to help finance his $5 million dream, the sudden collapse of his Bank of California in late August -- and Ralston's shocking and unexpected death on the same day that he lost control of the institution -- did not interfere with the opening of the Palace Hotel two months later. Ralston's business partner U.S. Senator William Sharon -- who had helped cause the collapse of the Bank when he dumped his stock in the Comstock Lode -- ended up in control of both the Bank and Ralston's debts (both of which which he paid off at just pennies on the Dollar), and as well as the then almost completed Palace Hotel. Personally, Sen. Sharon also took over Ralston Hall by paying the late banker's widow just $50,000 for the multi-million Dollar estate, and lived there until his death in 1885.
After four years of contruction -- and two months after Ralston's untimely death -- his magnificent new Palace Hotel finally opened its doors on October 2nd, 1875, to wild acclaim and with great fanfare. (Ironically the refinanced Bank of California also reopened on the same day.) Soon known popularly as the "Bonanza Inn", for the next three decades the Palace Hotel would serve as a fitting monument to the dreams and imagination of William C. Ralston, the "Magician of San Francisco."
As promised, San Francisco's newest landmark was stunning in its design and innovation. The skylighted open center of the building featured a Grand Court -- overlooked by seven stories of white columned balconies -- which served as an elegant carriage entrance for a parade of the rich and famous visiting San Francisco, and from which these already awed guests entered the hotel's magnificent lobby to check in. [Shortly after 1900 the Grand Court was converted a lounge called the "Palm Court."] The hotel's redwood paneled hydraulic elevators -- known as "rising rooms" -- allowed its guests to easily reach any of the hotel's seven floors. Each guest room or suite was equipped with an electronic call button to summon a member of the hotel's large and attentive staff who were always ready to attend to each guest's every whim. All 755 guest rooms (each with a private bathroom) could be easily joined together to create suites, or to make up large apartments for long term residents. The parlor of each guest room also featured a large bay window overlooking the street below.
Among the Palace Hotel's public rooms were the white and gold American Dining Room, located right off the main lobby, which could accommodate over 600. There were also two elegant "Grille Rooms" -- one for Ladies, and another for Gentlemen. The Maple Hall was available for receptions, while the Tapestry Room accommodated private dinners. Three "Louis Quinze" style "Parlors" (which could be combined into a single large room) were also available for public and private functions. A Colonial style Billiards Room provided a place for gentlemen guests to relax, as did the magnificently appointed Bar.
For the next three decades, the Palace Hotel was the City's symbol of world class elegance to both visitors and San Franciscans alike. (Among the many important events to take place there were a series of hearings before the U.S. Pacific Railway Commission in the summer of 1887 at which Lewis M. Clement was among those to provide testimony.) This all changed, of course, just after 5:12 A.M. on Wednesday, April 18, 1906, when a massive earthquake shook all of the San Francisco Bay Area. While the deliberately overbuilt and presumably "fireproof" Palace Hotel survived the quake with relatively modest physical damage, like so many other important buildings in the city, the hotel was soon overtaken by the raging fires that followed in its wake over the next three days. The flames reached the hotel early Wednesday afternoon, and by nightfall the magnificent world famous structure was reduced to a burned out shell.
|By 2:30pm, flames had invaded the "fireproof" Palace Hotel ...||... and within hours they left the Palace an empty, burned out shell.|
Forty-three months after the destruction of the original Palace, a nine story "new" Palace Hotel opened its doors on December 19, 1909, at the Market and new Montgomery Street site. While much plainer on the outside, for over a century now the new Palace Hotel has been as elegant, sumptuous, and gracious on the inside as was its famous predecessor. The "Palm Court" (also called the "Garden Court") -- which occupies the same area as the Grand Court did in the original hotel -- has been San Francisco's most prestigious hotel dining room since the day it opened in 1909. Almost anybody who is anybody has quenched their thirst at one time or another in the "Pied Piper" Bar (overseen by its famous Maxfield Parrish painting) which is located just off the gleaming polished marble lobby.
As with the original hotel, "everybody who is anybody" stayed at the Palace when they visited San Francisco including captains of industry, famous entertainers, international royalty, and politicians of every stripe including many Presidents of the United States. What would prove to be the most famous visit of one of the nation's chief executives came on July 31, 1923, when 58-year old President Warren G. Harding and his wife, Florence, checked in to the Presidential Suite (Room 8064) at the Palace. The Hardings were returning to Washington, DC, after a visit to Alaska and stopped in San Francisco where he was scheduled to deliver a speech to the World Court although that event was cancelled because he was feeling quite unwell when he arrived in the city by train. By the afternoon of August 2nd, however, the President seemed to be recovering and was sitting up in bed at the Palace with Mrs. Harding reading the newspaper to him when he suddenly suffered a seizure and died about 7:30 in the evening. The cause of death still remains a controversial, but was said at the time to be a stroke or "apoplexy".
By the late 1980's the "new" Palace was closing in on eight decades of hard service and it was beginning to show. It order to bring the great lady of Market Street back to its place of glory, the owners decided that the best course was close it down for for a complete top-to-bottom restoration which got underway in early January, 1989. Ironically ten months into the process, San Francisco and the Bay area experienced its first major seismic event since 1906 when a group of strong 6.7 - 7.1 temblors centered in Loma Prieta just south of the city rocked the entire Bay area starting at just a little after 5 in the afternoon on October 18, 1989. This time the quakes did considerable stuctural damage to the Palace which halted the restoration for a time so that new engineering plans could be developed which included a major seismic retrofit. The Palace remained closed for another year-and-a-half, but when the its doors were finally reopened to the public on April 3, 1991, and guests checked in for the first time in 27 months, it proved to be well worth the effort. The hundreds of thousands of man hours of careful work applied to every inch of the great structure had restored to its 1909 glory at a cost of more than $150 Million. And with that, the renewed "new" Palace Hotel was ready to again serve San Francisco as its greatest hostelry for many, many more decades to come.
[NOTE: The United States Pacific Railway Commission was created by an act of Congress of March 3, 1887 (24 Stat. 488). This act authorized the President to appoint three commissioners to investigate the affairs of those Pacific railroads that had received aid from the Federal Government. On April 15, 1887, President Grover Cleveland appointed the Commission, composed of Robert E. Pattison, chairman; E. Ellery Anderson; and David T. Littler. The main office was established in New York; temporary offices were located in San Francisco and Washington. The scope of the Commission's investigation "included a history of these roads, their relations and indebtedness to the Government, and the question whether in the interest of the United States an extension of the time for the performance of the obligations of said roads to the Government should be granted; and, if so, the . . . Commissioners were directed to submit a scheme for such an extension." The Commissioners reported to the President on December 1, 1887. Anderson and Littler concurred in the report of the Commission, while Pattison presented a dissenting report. The majority report recommended an extension of time for the payment of the debts of the railroads to the Government, while the minority report recommended that proceedings be instituted for forfeiting the charters of the railroads and for winding up their affairs. The findings of the Commission were transmitted to Congress by President Cleveland on January 17, 1888.]
Palace Hotel "End of the
Trail" PPC. In the 1920's
of this image (see above) was used as the vignette on the Palace Hotel
Illustrated Booklet with
12 Captioned Photographs as published by
The Palace Hotel, San Francisco (c. 1895).
The following detailed architectural description of the Palace Hotel -- apparently written by its then Manager, C.H. Livingston -- and accompanying engraved view came from an 1887 pictorial view album entitled "Historical Souvenir of San Francisco, Cal., with Views of Prominent Buildings, the Bay, Islands, Etc." published by C.P. Heninger, San Francisco. After the unexpected death of the landmark's innovative creator, W.C. Ralston, in August, 1875, the hotel came under the control of his Bank of California business partner, Sen. William Sharon, and continued to be operated by the Sharon family after his death in 1885. (This may be the reason that Sen. Sharon -- and not Ralston -- seems to be credited as the creative force behind the building of the Palace Hotel in the article by Livingston, a Sharon family employee.)--BCC
THE PALACE HOTEL.
Its commodious and elegant character is assured in the fact that, in the inception of the enterprise, the owner, the late Hon. William Sharon, instructed his architect to visit the hotels of the principal cities of the United States and Europe, for the express purpose of including in the plans of the Palace all existing improvements, and such additional ones that experience and observation had suggested, he desiring it to be a palatial hotel in every respect.
The Palace Hotel occupies the entire block upon the south west corner of New Montgomery and Market Streets; rearing its huge fronts a hundred and twenty feet, extending two hundred and seventy-five feet westerly up Market and Jessie, and stretching its vast flanks three hundred and fifty feet southerly along New Montgomery and Annie, this architectural monarch lifts its colossal bulk above the very business and social centers of the Pacific Metropolis.
Lines of street cars, connecting directly with all principal streets, business centers, leading places of amusement or resort, and all notable localities, constantly traversing the entire city, even to its remotest suburbs; run directly by, or within a minute's walk. At the neighboring foot of the city's grand, central avenue, which passes directly under its northern front, are the stations and docks of the Great Overland Railway terminus, with the piers and slips of the principal steam ferries, which swiftly bridge the broad bay in every habitable or pleasurable direction. A few blocks south lie the immense docks and basins of the P. M. S. S. Co. [Pacific Mail Steamship Company], with their grand fleet of Transpacific Mail Steamships for the Sandwich Islands, China, Japan, Australia, India, and the nations of the Orient.
The general style of architecture, within and without, is almost severely simple, Amplitude, solidity, strength and permanency reign in every part. Of the imposing exterior of the stately structure, with myriads of bay windows diversifying its four immense fronts, from top to bottom, and partially relieving the oppressive massiveness which must otherwise characterize it, of its stupendous proportions and its absolute immensity.
Ninety-six thousand two hundred and fifty square feet, or nearly two and a quarter acres, underlie the stupendous structure itself, while the sub-sidewalk extensions increase the basement area to upwards of three acres. Its general form is an immense triplicate, hollow quadrangle, including one grand central, crystal-roofed garden court, flanked by a lesser and parallel court on either side. Seven lofty stories surmount the deep and airy basement, and through a considerable portion it has eight. The lower story has a height of twenty-seven feet; the uppermost sixteen. The deep foundation wall is twelve feet thick; stone, iron, brick and marble are the chief materials. Of the brick alone, its construction consumed thirty-one millions.
All outer and inner and partition walls, from base to top, are solid stone and brick built around, within, and upon a huge skeleton of broad wrought-iron bands, thickly bolted together, and of such immense size as to have required three thousand tons for this purpose alone. Thus, the building is really duplex -- a huge, self-supporting frame of iron, of enormous strength, within massive walls of firm-set brick and solid stone. The outer and visible walls are proof against fire; the inner and invisible frames secure against earthquake. The supporting columns, within and without, are iron; the cornice of iron and zinc. Four artesian wells, having a tested capacity of 28,000 gallons an hour, supply the great 630,000 gallon reservoir under the central court, besides filling seven roof-tanks holding 130,000 gallons more. Three large steam fire-pumps force water through 45 4-inch wrought iron upright fire-mains, reaching above the roof, and distribute it through 327 2 1/2-inch hose bibs, and 15,000 feet of 5-ply carbonized fire-hose, thus doubly and trebly commanding every inch of the vast structure from roof to basement, within and without.
Five patent safety-catch hydraulic elevators, running noiselessly within fire-proof brick walls, ascend even to the roof promenades. Electric fire-alarms, self-acting, instantly report at the office the exact locality of any fire, or even of extraordinary beat in any parlor, bedroom, closet, hall, passage, stairway or storeroom. Special hotel watchmen regularly patrol all parts of the building every thirty minutes, day and night. A self-acting and self-registering tell-tale indicator instantly reports at the office any neglect or omission of their duty. Besides all these precautions, a fire-proof iron staircase, inclosed in solid brick and stone, and opening through iron doors upon every floor, ascends from basement to roof. Every floor has its exclusive annunciator, and its own tabular conductors, carrying all letters for the post office directory to the main letter-box in the general office. A pneumatic dispatch tube instantly conveys letters, messages or parcels to and from any point of the different floors. Two thousand and forty-two ventilating tubes, opening outward upon the roof from every room, bath-room and closet, insure constant purity and thorough sweetness of air in every part.
The grand central court, 144 x 48 feet, has a carriage and promenade entrance, through the east front on New Montgomery street, of 44 feet width, expanding into a circular driveway of fifty-two feet in diameter, surrounded by a marble-tiled promenade and a tropical garden of rare exotics, with choice statuary and artistic fountains. Within this court, opposite the main entrance, is the music pavilion, in which the instrumental band, exclusively attached to the palace, renders choice selections, at stated intervals, during every afternoon and evening.
Off the central court open the main entrance to the hotel office, 65 x 55 ; entrances to the breakfast room, 110 x 55; the grand dining room, 150 x 55; the music and ball room, 65 x 55; the ladies' lower reception room, 40 x 40 ; reading room of the same size ; billiard rooms, 65 x 40; barber shop and bath rooms, 40 x 40; committee rooms, and other general apartments, devoted to the pleasure or convenience of guests and patrons.
On the second floor are private dining rooms, children's dining hall, and the ladies' drawing rooms, 84 x 40. The total number of rooms exclusively for guests above the garden floor is 755. Most are twenty feet square -- none less than 16 x 16. They are equally well finished and furnished throughout. The heavy carpets, of most artistic and beautiful designs, were manufactured exclusively for this hotel. The massive furniture, original and unique in design, was made by special contract in San Francisco, of the finest and most beautiful native woods, at an aggregate cost of over half a million dollars. The rooms are expressly arranged for use, either singly or in suits of two or more. Their connections and approaches are such that an individual, family, or a party of any size, can have a suite of any number of rooms, combining the seclusion of the most elegant private residence, with the numberless luxuries of the most perfect hotel. Every outer room has its bay window, while every parlor and guest chamber has its own private toilet, ample clothes closet and fire grate.
The capitals of the columns along the upper corridors are crowded with elegant urns and vases of rare and beautiful flowers and plants, whose twining tendrils in luxuriant growth gracefully festoon the balconies, while the delicious fragrance of this tropical conservatory pervades the air of the court, as well as that of the neighboring rooms, with delightful perfumes. Independent of outward atmospheric changes, this crystal-roofed garden enjoys its own local sub-tropical climate of perpetual summer, where, as in some charming nook of fairyland, the balmy breath of incense-laden air may at once refresh and recreate its delighted guests. Classic statues of the four seasons also adorn the corridors of this aerial tropical conservatory.
From broad walks and observatories, surrounding the lofty roof, and readily accessible by the elevators, the guests enjoy a panoramic view unsurpassed in breadth and beauty. Within and without, in all approaches, appointments and belongings, the kingly structure, far surpassing, not only in size but in grandeur, all the hotels of Europe and America, richly jufitines the propriety of its happily chosen name—The Palace Hotel.
Booklet for Guests and Rate Card
following description of
the facilities of the new Palace Hotel comes from a pocket sized
(seen in the lower left corner of the above illustration) which was
by the Hotel in 1921 for the information of its guests. Included with
booklet is the Palace Hotel's rate
card as of
In the Center of that wonderful Queen City of the West, that city whose history is so replete with sentiment and romance, founded by intrepid pioneers of early days, stands the magnificent Palace Hotel, rightly called the Palace of the West; its fame is closely interwoven with the World-Wide story of the City that knows how.
WHEN the Central Pacific railroad was completed, linking, with its rails of steel, the East to the West, the need of accommodations suitable for the travelers of rank and wealth who visited San Francisco was at once apparent. From this need the Palace Hotel sprang into being in 1875 — almost a half-century ago.
When the last spike — a golden one — had been driven in the transcontinental railroad the West became the Mecca for adventurous souls, the land of golden promises, the most fascinating spot in the world.
The original Palace Hotel was planned and built by William C. Ralston, one of the picturesque figures of the early days of California. With his far-seeing judgment, he planned to make the Palace the greatest hostelry in America and when opened on October 2, 1875, it was universally conceded to be absolutely unequaled.
THE BONANZA DAYS
San Francisco was then experiencing one of the most dramatic periods of the city's early life — the period known as the "bonanza days." The gold rush had abated and the mines were producing millions. Speculation was rife. Fortunes were made or lost over night. It is said that more than five hundred million dollars in paper was outstanding on the Exchange at one time, and fluctuations of fifty millions within a week were not unusual.
The important figures of these stirring times made the Palace their home. Its registers show the names of every prominent traveler of those days. Today it is the home of many of the social and financial leaders of the West. The cream of the world's travel comes to the Palace, drawn by the fame of its cuisine and service, a fame which has come down through half a century, and which has become a tradition closely interwoven with the state's oldest and finest families.
From the day of its opening, until the conflagration of 1906, when, with the entire down-town portion of the city, it was totally destroyed, the Palace, without question, was the West's most famous hotel.
THE NEW PALACE
A new Palace sprang up from the ashes of the old. Because it was rebuilt along the old lines without omitting one endearing feature of the old Palace, it has never for a moment lost its place in the hearts of those who knew the Palace of old.
The Palace of today is a magnificent structure of steel, concrete and brick, covering practically two acres in the heart of the West's most fascinating city. From a point of construction it is without a superior. Absolutely fireproof, it offers a luxurious $8,000,000.00 home to the resident or traveler.
THE OLD COURT
The original Palace was built in the form of a hollow square surrounding a great Sun Court filled with palms and flowers. The traveler never forgot the unique experience of-driving into this court over a graveled road, and entering this metropolitan hotel from its tropical gardens. Thus, the fame of the Palace spread far and near.
THE NEW PALM COURT
The Palm Court of today, which has taken the place of the open court of the "bonanza days," is conceded to be one of the most attractive dining-rooms in America. The wide-open space, the lofty iridescent glass covering, through which the sunlight filters down in an amber flood, makes an irresistible appeal to all who gather there.
Society gathers in the Palm Court for afternoon tea. A splendid orchestra in keeping with the magnificent room, is one of the attractions.
MUSIC AT THE PALACE
Music plays an important part in the life of this ultra-modern hotel. The dancing orchestra in the Rose Room adjoining the Palm Court is one of the finest in the West. Each member of this orchestra is a soloist of note, and the Palace dances are exceedingly popular.
THE ROSE ROOM
The beautiful Rose Room has the same iridescent glass ceiling as that of the Palm Court with the same old-ivory toned woodwork, but its beauty is enhanced by rose-colored velvet hangings and silken light shades of a soft rose hue.
THE CONCERT ROOM
Adjoining the Rose Room is the Concert Room. This spacious room, has always been one of the most popular private dining saloons in the city. Here many of the important club luncheons and dinners are given each week, and, when occasion demands, its doors are opened and it becomes a part of the Rose Room. The attractive concert room is also the scene of many society weddings.
SCENE OF FAMOUS GATHERINGS
three rooms, the
Palm Court, the Rose Room, and the
can be thrown into one immense dining room, with a seating capacity of
close to two thousand persons. Here the city's important functions are
So popular has the Palace become as a business and social rendezvous, that an average of 2,500 luncheons are served daily.
THE BALL ROOM
The Ball Room is a magnificent white and gold room, with the same wonderful crystal chandeliers which distinguish the other main rooms. It is so located that it can be made a part of the three main dining rooms. Many of the daughters of the State's oldest families have made their debut with this beautiful ballroom as the setting.
Beyond the Palm Court from the Rose Room is the Grill. An ideal breakfast room, its heavily carved panels and beamed ceiling form the setting of an intimate room which bears the closest scrutiny and of which one never tires. It is open only to men during luncheon hours and many of the tables are reserved by the same coterie of business men from year to year.
THE FAMOUS BUFFET
The famous Palace Buffet is no more. This heavy, dark paneled room, which opens from the Grill is now known as the Grill Annex. The Palace Buffet, once the most famous gathering place in the West, was the rendezvous of the leaders of the business world in the days when clubs were unknown in the city. The $25,000.00 painting of the "Pied Piper" by Maxfield Parrish still adorns the wall of this room.
THE FRENCH PARLOR
Overlooking the Court on the mezzanine floor is the French Parlor, a delightful gray and ivory salon. It is one of the most popular rooms in the hotel, for afternoon functions or weddings. The Palace has many private dining rooms, suitable for small gatherings, one of the most interesting being the Salon d'Nivelle, a most luxuriously fitted little dining room, with a seating capacity of but twenty-five.
The fittings of this private dining room are exquisite. Soft old-rose colored draperies harmonize with the old-ivory woodwork and the splendid French tapestries and engravings. The Salon d' Nivelle was christened by General R. Nivelle during his last visit to San Francisco.
Many of the luxurious apartments at the Palace are leased for a long term of years. These private suites are complete in every detail. The bedrooms at the Palace are unusually spacious and luxuriously furnished.
The Palace room service is one of the most efficient known to hotel men. Small tables, completely set up — a table to each person served— are carried to the desired floor by private elevators, allowing the meals to be served in the minimum length of time.
The Palace has its own plant for the generation of electricity, for steam heating, for separate ventilation of each floor, for ice making, the running of laundry machinery, and for fire protection. Unlike any other hotel, the Palace has three great wells directly beneath it. From this unfailing supply, the water is pumped into an immense reservoir, with a capacity of 675,000 gallons.
Fresh air, brought into the hotel through specially arranged channels, is filtered and washed before being sent to the rooms. The entire body of air is changed every four minutes. Expert architects and engineers who have watched the operation of the Palace system of ventilation say that this is one instance where theory in practice has proved all that had been expected.
The Palace laundry is one of the most modern and best equipped in the city. It handles between 30,000 and 40,000 pieces daily.
Carrying out the dream of its founders, the service of the Palace has always been maintained at that point of excellence which early made it famous throughout the world.
The Palace Hotel
2 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco, Calif.
Palace Hotel Rate Card, January, 1922
1930's Palace Hotel room key (#5008) and metal tags.
Hotel developer William C. Ralston (left) with his friends Col. Alexis W. von Schmidt and Horace Davis on the fifth floor
balcony overlooking the enterance court as its construction neared completion and shortly before Ralston's death by drowning
in San Francisco Bay on August 27, 1875. A.W. von Schmidt was a buisness partner of Ralston's in the California Dry
Dock Co. and as a State surveyor was respobsible for formally establishing the border between California and
Nevada in 1873. Horace Davis was a long time San Francisco businessman who was elected to Congress
in 1877, was President of the University of California (1887-1890), and President of the Board
of Trustees of Stanford University from 1885 until his death in 1916.
October 17, 1875
Front page story reporting the opening of the Palace Hotel.
The Daily Alta California, October 17, 1875
sterling silver menu for a Dinner at the Palace Hotel
held in honor of its owner, Sen. William Sharon, in February, 1876.
When first opened in 1875, the
seven story Palace Hotel dominated the then mostly
low rise residential and commercial structures of downtown San Francisco.
View of New Montgomery Street from the Palace Hotel.
Located across New Montgomery
Street from the Palace, the gingerbread Grand Hotel was eventually
connected to its larger neighbor by a covered bridge between the two hotels' second floors.
The arrival of former President Ulysses S. Grant at the Palace Hotel for a full week's visit.
"Harper's Weekly", October 25, 1879
The Palace Hotel enterance court looking East..
With Lotta's Fountain and early steel framing of the Monadnock Building
Fountain and early steel framing of the Monadnock
South down New Montgomery Street with the Grand Hotel on the left and
Palace Hotel on the right.
A covered walkway was eventually built over the street connecting the two hotels' second floors.
The Palace Hotel with the Grand
Hotel and New Montgomery St. (left),
and Market St. and the Manodnock Building (right).
Detail from the above image showing the "Overland RR Ticket Office" located in the Palace Hotel.
With the Grand
Hotel (left), the Monadnock
Building (right), and
Lotta's Fountain (foreground).
By then the Palace's top two floors had been converted into large apartments for permanent residents.
The Palace Hotel's frontage on Market Street at New Montgomery Street
showing the Overland RR Ticket Office at the corner..
The Palace Hotel carriage enterance court.
The Palace Hotel enterance from New Montgomery Street for carriages.
Autograph letter signed (ALS)
written to F.N. Chase, Esq, of Cedar Falls, Iowa, by former U.S.
Senator Aaron A. Sargent
at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco, on August 6, 1884. As a Member of Congress (1861-63; 1869-73) and of the
U.S. Senate (1873-79) from California, A.A. Sargent was both a key player in the original passage of the
Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 and an ongoing champion in the Congress and Senate of the interests
of the Central Pacific Railroad. He later served as the U.S. Minister to Germany (1882-84.)
December 4, 1886
Wells, Fargo & Co's. Express
2-cent US postal stationery cover
addressed to Edmund H. Watts, Jr, Esq
The Palace Hotel, San Fancisco
Palace Hotel "Christmas Poster"
Sharon & Schoenwald, Lessees
The San Francisco News Letter, 1886 Christmas Number
The Grand Hotel, Palace Hotel, and Monadnock Building.
By the 1890's, the seventh floor
of the Palace -- known as the "Conservatory
Floor" -- had been
converted to luxury suites for permanent guests who developed a little residential community
of their own. Four of these residents are seen here on that top floor's marble statue lined,
skylighted balcony which overlooked the hotel's entrance court far below.
The view down
Street from Third Street toward the Ferry Building with the Palace Hotel
visible a block away on the right beyond the Monadnock Building.
The Grand Hotel (left) and
Palace Hotel (right) showing the covered foot bridge
over New Montgomery Street connecting the two.
Advertisement for the Palace & Grand Hotels.
John Philip Sousa and his U.S. Marine Corps Band performs
in the Court of the Palace Hotel..
This individual service silver teapot
is a rare surviving relic of the original Palace Hotel
as the vast majority of the Palace's silver and china was destroyed in the 1906 fire.
An 1896 letter from the
Republican State Committee of California headquartered at the Palace
supporting William McKinley for President and Corner Cover with McKinley quote ...
... and an eventual visit by President McKinley to the Palace in 1901 (below).
PresidentWilliam McKinley visits the Palace Hotel.
Also visible: the Grand Hotel (left), the Monadnock Building (right), and Lotta's Fountain (foreground)
Large "Date Palm" in the Enterence Court of the Palace Hotel.
The Garden Court
With the Hearst (Examiner) and Call Buildings in the foreground
April 18, 1906
The fierce fire storm approaches the Palace Hotel (upper left) early in the afternoon of April 18, 1906.
April 18, 1906
A first person account of the earthquake by a guest at the Palace Hotel.
The Los Angeles Herald, April 20, 1906.
Thr ruins of the Palace Hotel as seen from Geary Street.
Thr ruins of the Grand Hotel, Palace Hotel, Monadnock Building, Examiner Building, and Call Building..
Thr ruins of the Palace Hotel, Monadnock Building, and Call Building.
April 18-21, 1906
Map showing the Palace (red) and Grand (blue) Hotels in the worst fire damaged district of the city.
Demolition of the remains of the Palace Hotel.
"Baby" Palace Hotel
at Post & Leavenworth Streets
(Opened November 17, 1906)
The "Baby" Palace Hotel while under construction at the NW corner of Post and Leavenworth Streets.
Since 1916, a four story
brick apartment building (which also houses the
"Cafe Royale" and two other businsses on the ground floor) has occupied
the former hotel site at the NW corner of Post & Leavenworth Streets.
"New" Palace Hotel
(Opened December 16, 1909
December 16, 1909
The San Francisco Call reports the opening of the "New" Palace Hotel.
December 16, 1909
December 16, 1909
Banquet in the Garden Court for the reopening of the "New" Palace Hotel.
The "New" Palace Hotel. (PPC)
"New" Palace Hotel, the Monadnock, and the Call
Buildings as seen from the corner
of New Montgomery and Markets Streets. (PPC)
The "New" Palace Hotel with Lotta's Fountain in the foreground. (PPC)
"New" Palace Hotel, the Monadnock, and the Call
Buildings as seen from the corner
of New Montgomery and Markets Streets. (PPC)
The "New" Palace Hotel with streetcars on Market Street in the foreground. (PPC)
Advertisement for the "New" Palace Hotel from the "San Francisco Blue Book."
for the Palace Hotel on Market Street and the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill
(which was then operated under lease by the Palace Hotel Company) for visitors
to San Francisco for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
Palace Hotel across Market Street from the M.H. DeYoung Building
(the then home of the SF Chronicle), the Geary Street, Park & Ocean
Railroad cable car turntable, and Lotta's Fountain.
July 22, 1916
"The San Francisco Preparedness Day Parade"
Army nurses (top) and California veterans passing along Market Street in front of the Palace Hotel.
Held in anticipation of the eventual US entry in WWI, the parade was the largest such event in
the City's history as the massive 3.5 hour procession included 51,329 marchers and 52 bands
from 2,134 local patriotic organizations. However at 2:06pm, about half an hour
into the parade, anti-war anarchists exploded a dynamite time bomb at Steuart
and Market Streets killing ten bystanders and injuring another forty in
what is still the worst terrorist act in San Francisco history.
Congress declared war on Germany nine months later
on April 6, 1917.
The shrouded body of one of the victims of the July 22, 1916, Preparedness Day Bombing at
the corner of Steuart and Market Streets, across from the Ferry Building and
nine blocks from the Palace Hotel, in what is still considered to be
the worst terrorist act in San Francisco history.
Map showing the location of the Palace Hotel and its Market Street neighbors in 1921.
The Palace Hotel across Market Street from the M.H. DeYoung Building and Lotta's Fountain.
"New" Palace Hotel, the Monadnock, and the Call
Buildings as seen from the corner
of New Montgomery and Markets Streets.
Magazine advertisements for the Palace Hotel.
dinner plate from the Palace Hotel's famous "Gold Service" which was
only on very special occasions. The service was fine Bavarian "Black Knight"
bone china made in 1927 by CM Hutschenreuther AG in Selb, Germany.
"Black Knight" china maker's mark on Palace Hotel "Gold Service" plate.
"New" Palace Hotel, the Monadnock
Building, and Lotta's Fountain as seen from the corner
of Geary and Markets Streets.
Picture postcard promoting the Palace Hotel as a convenient place to
stay for visitors to the
1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.
1930's - 1950's
Hotel baggage labels.
The Palace Hotel's Cafe
September 8, 1951
the past century the current Palace Hotel has been the site of
thousands of important local, national,
and international events such as a dinner honoring the delegates to the 1951 Japanese Peace Conference.
A gala dinner for Hollywood's greatest stars hosted by California Governor James "Sunny Jim" Rolph, Jr,
at the Palace Hotel's Garden Court. The colorful Gov Rolph also served as Mayor of San Francisco
from 1912 to 1931 making him the City's longest serving chief executive.
October 15, 1957
Then Vice President Richand M. Nixon addresses the International Industrial
Development Conference banquet at the Palace Hotel's Garden Court.
September 21, 1959
Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev being honored by the City of San Francisco
at a banquet held at the Garden Court of the Palace Hotel.
colorful magazine advertisement for the Sheraton-Palace Hotel during
the time that it was operated by the
Sheraton Hotel Company under that name from 1954 through the early 1990's. From January, 1989,
to April, 1991, the hotel was closed for 28 months while it underwent $150 Million in renovations.
promotion by American Airlines and the Sheraton-Palace Hotel for
package "Flagship Vacations" to San Francisco.
Sheraton-Palace Hotel and Manodnock Building (right). (PPC)
(Note that the balconies have been removed.)
Fountain (foreground) and the Monadnock
The Garden Court
The Garden Court
The Garden Court
The Garden Court
The Garden Court
The Garden Court
The Garden Court
"The Pied Piper of Hamlin"
by Maxfield Parrish
(6' x 16')
2003Pied Piper Bar
Exhibits courtesy of the
Bruce C. Cooper Collections.
Original text, annotations, modern and composite images by Bruce C. Cooper, DigitalImageServices.com.