Part of old San Francisco City Hall discovered

September 26, 2012 11:11:49 AM PDT
In an unusual discovery, part of the old San Francisco City Hall destroyed by the great earthquake and fire of 1906 has turned up. Crews discovered the ruins on Fulton Street and Hyde Street about two blocks from where the new City Hall now stands.

People that stroll along the sidewalk by San Francisco's Civic Center probably have no idea that below them, is a piece of the past. When the great quake of 1906 struck, it left the magnificent City Hall in ruins. Its dome became a symbol of the disaster. Now, crews involved in a landscaping project have made a historic find, remnants of the old structure.

Crews were jack-hammering, making room to plant a tree when they discovered a brick foundation. "What the earthquake didn't destroy in 1906, the demolition crews shortly thereafter did. So, what we have here are the foundations. It's a pretty big foundation. It's brick on top of granite on top of an enormous concrete plinth," Rebecca Karberg told ABC7 News.

Karberg is the historic preservation specialist for the General Services Administration which owns the property. The ruins are part of the eastern wing of what was then City Hall. The entire building took 27 years to construct. The section on Hyde Street actually withstood the quake and architectural historian Edward Yarbroogh believes examining what's left could answer some key questions about seismic safety. "We may be able to learn something from these foundations about the last stages of construction in the late 1890s that made this portion better survive," he said.

The spectacular new City Hall was built in 1915 and now casts a long shadow over the old one. The construction work at the site will stop for a few weeks while historians document the discovery.


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