The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
Imagine a structure inspired by Roman and Greek architecture, standing proud in the middle of San Francisco. I was staying with a close friend who told me the Palace of Fine Arts is her favorite place in the city, and she wanted to take me there. I was expecting an art museum filled with the kind of art she is drawn to. I was not expecting this gem to also become my favorite part of the city.
Situated in the Marina District and surrounded by million dollar homes – the kind with yards and garages and multiple levels unseen in most of San Francisco – sits an elaborately detailed palace of ample proportion, overlooking a small, manmade lake where swans and ducks and turtles swim free, just minutes from the bay.
Originally, the Palace of Fine Arts was created to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal back in 1915, as part of a world’s fair. A temporary structure by design, it was constructed first of wood and plaster and meant to be demolished at the fair’s end. But the palace was so stunning that it inspired the Palace Preservation League which ultimately prevented it’s destruction until 1964, when a more permanent replica was created of concrete.
It remains today a dome of beauty, and a place for solitude. Over the years it has had many uses, but all that remains is a stage for theatrics and a surrounding park for relaxation. It’s available to rent for events as well.
Have you seen the Palace? Can you see the Roman influence?