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View West up Market Street , c. 1865

New Montgomery Steet and the Palace Hotel were developed on the site on the left side of Market Street, by the wealthy banker, William Ralston. Built on a sandhill, the eight-storey Hotel opened in splendor in 1876 as the largest hotel west of the Mississsippi.

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Site of Palace Hotel, Market Street , c. 1865

Ralston planned the Palace Hotel as a symbol of San Francisco's coming of age - the end of the mining camps and raw boom town to established city. It was designed to be a hotel of timeless elegance and unprecedented luxury and modernity.

Source: BIG

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Montgomery Street toward Market Street, c1880

Gas Lamps installed on Montgomery Street, viewing toward Market Street and the Palace Hotel on Montgomery Streeet, across the street from today's Charles Schwab Bld.

View down Montgomery Street in 1870s shows the newly completed Palace Hotel at the far end. Another leading hotel, the Lick House, at the corner of Montgomery and Sutter streets, is visible through the row of ornate street lamps.
(Ca State Library)


The first street lamps in San Francisco were erected in Merchant street, by Mr. James B. M. Crooks, in October, 1850. They were lighted with oil, and to be paid for by private subscription. The same gentleman had also completed the erection of ninety lamps, on the 20th of February, 1852, on Montgomery, Clay, Washington and Commercial streets, to be paid for in a similar manner. These, with the exception of four posts, were all destroyed by the fire of the 4th of May following. In the autumn of 1852, the common council contracted with Mr. Crooks to light the city within the limits of Battery, Kearny, Jackson and California streets. This contract was carried out until the introduction of gas as above related, by a contract made with Mr. James Donahue for the “San Francisco Gas Company.”

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Carriage Entrance of the Palace Hotel, c. 1880

The Hotel's great central court of white marble, with surrounding galleries of seven stories rising above it to the vaulted glass roof, was spectacular. Carriages drove into the court through wide doors and turned in a circular driveway cut in the flagged marble floor. It is now the Garden Court Restaurant.

The Carriage Entrance was used for grand entrances upon its opening in 1876. The area was renovated to become a restaurant due to guests' complaints over the smell of manure.


(Photograph by Taber)

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Palace Hotel, Market and New Montgomery Street circa 1880

Built on a sandhill, the eight-storey Hotel opened in splendor in 1876 as the largest hotel west of the Mississsippi. Two and a half acres in size, with 800 rooms and six of its seven gold-and-white stories decorated in parallel banks of bay windows, the Palace was this boomtown's pride and joy.


Palace Hotel Exterior shortly after completion in 1876. A pedestrian bridge connected the property to the Baldwin Hotel that was directly across the street on New Montgomery.

(photograph by Taber)




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Palace Hotel at the corner of new Montgomery and Market was connected via a above street walkway to the Grand Hotel located across the street c1880

Taber photo

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Lotta's Fountain on Market Street, circa 1890

This bronzed Beaux Arts column is located at the convergence of Market, Geary, and Kearny streets, diagonally across from the Palace Hotel. The fountain was donated by Lotta Crabtree in 1875, as a token to the city that had helped her rise to stardom during the Gold rush.

Taber Photo

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Montgomery Street, c. 1909

The Palace Hotel, seen at the end of the street on the right, is nearing completion prior to re-opening. It had been destroyed in the fire following the 1906 Earthquake.

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Montgomery and Market Street, c. 1909

The Palace Hotel, the building at the far end, was rebuilt after the Earthquake during the following three years, opening in 1909. Its opulence continued to be enjoyed by many generations of society's elite.

Hibernia Bank building on left, Union Trust Company on right, flatiron Crocker Building, which was built in the late 1890s and survived the 1906 earthquake, stands at the intersection of Post, Montgomery and Market. The Palace Hotel at far end.

The recovery and rebuilding of the City afer the 1906 Earthquake occurred with great energy. Many buildings were rebuilt exactly as they had looked prior to the Earthquake, but in the same unimaginative grid patterns that were unsuited to the City's grace and aesthetics as promoted by the City Beautiful movement.


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Shreve Clock on Market Street, c. 1880


George and Samuel Shreve, jewelers from New York lured by the gold and silver boom, originally opened their Shreve Jewelry Store, at the corner of Montgomery and Clay. In 1894 the store was incorporated as Shreve & Co. and relocated to Market Street, across from the Grand Palace Hotel.

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"At the end of the trail is the Palace". The famous old hotel used this motto from the days of the Overland Trail. The Palace was built by Bank of California founder, William Ralston, who died in a mysterious swimming accident shortly prior to its opening in 1875.

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attributed to Carlton Watkins

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Upper Corridor, Palace Hotel, c. 1875

Developer William Ralston, left, meets with dignitaries Von Schmidt and Davis on an upper corridor before the Hotel's opening. There was a series of 7 galleries extending upwards from the Grand Court, and the Hotel's total height was over 22,000 feet.


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Upper Balcony of the Grand Court, Palace Hotel, c. 1878

This uppermost seventh balcony of the Hotel was adorned with marble statuary and plants, just below the great domed roof of opaque glass. Vast amounts of marble were used throughout the Hotel, including over 800 mantels and wash-stands, and 40,000 square feet of pavement.

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Presidential Luncheon, Garden Court of the Palace Hotel, September 1919

The elegant Garden Court, with its dome stained-glass ceiling and Austrian crystal chandeliers, was the site for some of the nation's most prestigious events. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson hosted two luncheons in support of the Versailles Treaty, which ended World War I. This was part of his 8000 mile tour, with 40 speeches in 29 cities in 22 days.

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Banquet for Hollywood Stars, Garden Court of the Palace Hotel, 1932

This banquet was held by by Governor James Rolph for motion picture stars, who travelled from Los Angeles by train for the occasion. Rolph served as mayor of San Francisco for 20 years, before being elected Governor of California in 1931.

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Funeral Procession for President Harding, August 2, 1923

Funeral Procession on Market Sreet in honor of the death of President Harding who died in the Palace Hotel directly across the Street.

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Palace Hotel after the Earthquake and Fire, 1906


The Hotel suffered only moderate structural damage in the Earthquake, due to the efforts by Ralston to make it earthquake resistant. However the "fire-proofing" efforts were a total loss. Artesian water stored in roof top and basement tanks was exhausted well before the fire could be contained. Rubble from the building was later dumped in the Marina area as fill.

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