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 Bruce C. Cooper


"Souvenir of the Palace Hotel"
An Illustrated Booklet with 12 Captioned Photographs as published by
The Palace Hotel, San Francisco (c. 1895).

A Detailed Architectural Description of the Palace Hotel from
"Historical Souvenir of San Francisco, Cal."
as published by
C.P. Heininger, San Francisco (1887).

A Booklet for Guests and Rate Card published by the new
Palace Hotel, San Francisco (1922).

A total of more than

~ 125 ~

Period & Original Modern Photographs,
Images, and Illustrations.

PH Title


WCROpened 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.

Bank of Cal 1869 adAs 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.

Bank of California

The "Original" Palace Hotel

OPH ThumbIn what proved to be his final dream project for his adopted city, William Ralston had wanted to turn 1870's San Francisco from a still young Pacific boom town into a world class metropolis by erecting a grand hotel of timeless elegance and unprecedented luxury. To that end Ralston had commissioned Irish-born architect and engineer John Painter Gaynor (who had worked earlier on Ralston Hall) to study Europe's finest hotels for ideas. Ralston intended, of course, that these Continental hotels would soon all pale in comparison to his new Palace Hotel which began to rise in early 1873 on a two-and-a-half acre site on the SW corner of Market and New Montgomery Streets across from the existing four story "gingerbread" Grand Hotel, an earlier Ralston project located at the intersection's SE corner. Previously occupied by a large sandhill, Ralston had acquired the 375 x 250 foot rectangular property in pieces for a total of $400,000.

MapWhile 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.

The Grand Court is seen here in 1904 after it had been converted from the Palace Hotel's carriage entrance to a gracious central lounge.

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.

ph2 PH shell
By 2:30pm, flames had invaded the "fireproof" Palace Hotel  ... ... and within hours they left the Palace an empty, burned out shell.

The "Baby" Palace Hotel

BPH thumbAs the scorched shell of the Palace began to be razed, a modest 23-room "temporary" Palace Hotel (often called the "Little" or "Baby" Palace Hotel) arose eight blocks west of the Market Street site at the NW corner of Post and Leavenworth Streets which opened to the public with considerable fanfare on November 17, 1906.  Just five months after its debut, however, the Palace Hotel Company announced on April 24, 1907, that it had signed a ten-year lease for the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill and that the Baby Palace would therefore soon be closed. On July 16th, the 2,927th and last guest checked out of the Baby Palace just 251 days after it had opened and the building was promptly turned over to The Olympic Club, a private athletic club founded in 1860 which had leased the two-story frame structure for a period of five years. The OC quickly converted the former hotel into a temporary clubhouse for its members to use while its own then fire gutted 1893 vintage facility located two-and-a-half blocks to the east at 524 Post Street was being rebuilt. (The Olympic Club moved into the new clubhouse in June, 1912, and still occupies that massive brick building today.) By 1916 the Baby Palace's building was gone and had been replaced at the NW corner of Post & Leavenworth by a four story brick apartment house which still stands there now almost a century later. For many years, the ground level of that structure has been occupied along its Post Street side by the popular "Cafe Royale" resturant and wine bar.

The "New" Palace Hotel

NPH1909Forty-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.

WGHAs 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".

"End of the Trail"
Engraved "End of the Trail" vignette from 1920's Palace Hotel letterhead.
(Click on the above image to see a high resolution version this vignette.)

The "Renovated" Palace Hotel

RPH1991By 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 an engraved version of this image (see above) was used as the vignette on the Palace Hotel letterhead.

"Souvenir of the Palace Hotel"

An Illustrated Booklet with 12 Captioned Photographs as published by
The Palace Hotel, San Francisco (c. 1895).


Leslie's Masthead

The following three articles all appeared in the October 9, 1875 issue Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
published just a week after The Palace Hotel opened in San Francisco on October 2, 1875.


    IN another place in this paper we give a double-page picture of the famous Palace Hotel which has just been completed at San Francisco. Accompanying the picture will be found a detailed description of the immense edifice and of ail its interior arrangements—a description at once minute and exhaustive, and sufficient to enable the ordinary reader to form a clear conception of the vastness, as well as the comforts and conveniences, of the greatest hotel ever built, in ancient or modern times, for the accommodation of the general public. Buildings as large have been reared and do exist, but for hotel purposes no edifice of the same dimensions was ever contemplated and brought to completion. The Palace Hotel is a natural outcropping of American life and habit. It would not have been thought of. it could not have been built, by any other people, or in any other land. The Union and other hotels at Saratoga have long been objects of astonishment to strangers ; but these are now completely put in the shade, dwarfed and rendered insignificant; and the Palace Hotel at San Francisco must be pronounced one of the wonders of modern times.

    The hotel on a large scale has long been a peculiarly American institution. In it our people seek and find a suitable and congenial home. It was, at one time, thought that the taste for hotel life would diminish as the Republic advanced in years, as wealth increased, and as the people settled down in established centres of commerce, trade and industry. Facts, however, do not favor this expectation. Hotels in ever increasing size multiply : and the natural inference is that the taste for hotel life is not only not diminishing, but rather growing with our growth and increasing with our strength.

    One wonders, sometimes, why it should be so. It is not denied that the hotel has many special advantages. It secures much of the comfort of home, properly so called, without the cost and care and responsibility which are inseparable from the setting up and maintenance of a separate domestic establishment. It is, moreover, singularly adapted to the genius of the American people, among whom distinctions of class, however much coveted by some, are frowned down by the many. An American hotel, with its public dining room and parlors and its various other common conveniences, is a miniature representative of the Republic. At the hotel, one man is as good as another ; and if only he is possessed of the requisite quantity of stamps, Jack calls no man his master. The daughter of the peasant is on a footing of perfect equality with that of the President; and the tradesman's son, equally with the scion of the proudest family in the land is permitted to enjoy in advance the honors and privileges of the sovereign citizenship of the Republic. At the same time it would be absurd to deny that hotel life has its drawbacks as well as its advantages. It is wanting in many of the higher elements and more endearing qualities of home in the good old-fashioned sense of the word. In the larger and more easy relationship begotten of the promiscuous crowd, the ties of the family circle become loosened. The family in fact, as such, with all its sweet endearments and hallowed joys, practically ceases to exist. Such scenes as those which Burns has made immortal in his "Cotter's Saturday Night" can scarcely be conceived in connection with the loose, promiscuous and irresponsible life of an American monster hotel. And most certainly it was not of hotel life that Howard Payne was thinking when he penned that sweetest of songs, "Home Sweet Home!" How much that is sweet in life and literature conies from attachment to particular scenes, and from associations therewith connected ; and how much of true patriotism in every age of the world lies sprung from the sacred love of home in the strictest and narrowest sense! Then again, how much of that true affection which binds families together, making the interest of each the interest of all, is due to the close personal intercourse and minute observation possible only in the private home circle; and how much home example and home experience tend to the development of those virtues and graces which adorn the individual character, and which prove the best safeguard of the nation's weal! To the development of those healthful sentiments and to the cultivation of those virtues and graces it cannot be said that hotel life, as known among us, is in the highest degree favorable.

    We have no desire to disesteem establishments which, for the present at least, and at some points, seem to be indispensable, or to discourage enterprises which are intended for the comfort and convenience of the public ; but we cannot let go the opportunity of saying that if the money which is annually spent by our wealthier classes in hotels at the various Summer retreats were spent in building and maintaining rural villas, suitable for the. accommodation of single families, the result would be an increase of family comfort and a positive gain to the community at large. Saratoga would not the less be Saratoga, but, perhaps, rather the more, if her vast Summer population found accommodation in smiling villas on the sides of her beautiful hills or by the sparkling waters of her lovely lake.

    As hotels are still a necessity, and as there is still a disposition to build them on a gigantic scale, it is gratifying to find that in this latest and grandest enterprise of the kind at San Francisco everything has been done to add to the comfort and to provide for the safety of the guests. In buildings so large, where thousands of people may be gathered together, and even sleeping under the same roof, fire is the monster most to be dreaded. At the Palace Hotel, fire, it would seem, is rendered all but impossible. This is well. Altogether, the Palace Hotel is worthy of San Francisco—a city which is destined to be the golden gate of communication between Asia on the one hand and America and Europe on the other.



The Palace Hotel, San Francisco.

CALIFORNIA, the land of prodigies, of giant trees, of mighty mountains, of wonderful vegetable growth, of stupendous enterprises, and of colossal schemes, comes forward once again to claim a championship. She throws down the gauntlet to her older sister States and challenges them to equal her in the matter of hotel accommodations. New York, Saratoga, Chicago and St. Louis has each claimed the palm of excellence for its own magnificent caravansaries, but San Francisco with her Palace Hotel can confidently boast of having the finest hotel building in the country, and one that in all the features of excellence and completeness probably surpasses any similar edifice in the world.

    The Palace Hotel was projected by the late William C. Ralston and the Hon. William Sharon, who with their usual energy and public spirit it determined to furnish the city of San Francisco with a hotel which should challenge the world. In pursuance of this intention, Messrs. Ralston and Sharon selected the well-known architect, J. P. Gaynor, to visit the principal cities of the United States and Europe, for the purpose of thoroughly examining the most celebrated hotels of the world before preparing his plans and specifications. He was to include in the plans of the Palace all existing improvements, and such additional ones as his experience and observation might suggest. The projectors were also determined that the hotel when completed should be under the management of the most competent man in America, and were fortunate in not only obtaining Mr. Warren Leland as lessee, but also in securing his services in superintending the work of construction. Mr. Leland's aid to the architect has been invaluable, as in the running of a hotel after it is completed, so in the knowledge of how it should be built, he excels. He is master of the subject in its largest generalities and its smallest details.

    The erection of the building was begun over a year ago, and was finished a short time since. It how stands one of the most beautiful architectural edifices in the city of San Francisco. Striking as is the vastness of the building when viewed from a point near at hand, to get a true idea of its comparative size one must see it from the Bay, east of the city. Viewed from that standpoint, it is the most conspicuous object in the view, and looming up above the sea of houses, presents a grand and imposing appearance.

Palace Hotel Opening 1875 (1000px)

Click on the above image to see a high resolution (300dpi, 22MB) version of this engraving.
(NOTE: This is a "progressive" jpg sent in three scans which will show greater
detail as each part is downloaded so be patient to get the full effect.)

    The new hotel occupies the land bounded by New Montgomery, Market, Annie and Jessie Streets, having frontages as follows: On New Montgomery, 850 feet; Market, 275 feet; Annie, 350 feet, and Jessie 275 feet, covering a space of 96,250 feet. To enable the reader to compare its size with that of other monster hotels, it may be stated that the Grand Pacific Hotel, Chicago, covers but 58,145 square feet. The Grand Hotel in Paris has only 720 rooms, while the Palace Hotel of San Francisco has 755 rooms above the ground-floor exclusively for the use of guests.

    The building is seven stories in height. It is most substantially built, and is fireproof in all essential points. The lower story is 25 feet high ; the others 14 and 16 feet. Long rows of bay windows, piled one above another, extend from the top of the first story to the roof. The brick walls are covered with cement painted a clear white. Between the bay windows are seen the gilded washers or anchor-heads of the iron bars used for strengthening the building, which give a pleasant relief to the pure white sea of wall and windows.

    The building has the strength of a fortress. At the base all the foundation-walls are built with inverted arches, and are twelve feet thick. Every wall in the building, exterior, interior or partition, has iron bars running through it from one end to the other, the bars at each end being secured by iron washers or anchor-heads. In the lower stories these bars are five feet apart. In the upper stories they are placed nearer together, and in the topmost story they are only two feet apart. It by any chemical process every portion of the building except the iron could be suddenly eaten away, and the bars be left in their present position, we should see a gigantic network of iron bars crossing each other at right angles, and so thick together that we could with ease trace the lines formerly occupied by the thousands of partition-walls. The cement coating on the outside of the brick walls also adds to the strength of the building, for it will become as hard as stone, harder indeed, than the brick. The construction of the building has required 24,661,000 hard bricks, 28,398 barrels of cement and 22,160 barrels of lime.

    It is estimated that the total cost of the building will be: Ground, $1,000,000 ; building, $1.7,30,000; furniture, $500,000; total, say about $3,250,000. The basement throughout is to be 10 feet in the clear. In it are the following rooms : Wine-room, 55 x 42 ; china and glass-room, 21 x 55 ; mechanics' dining-room, 21 x 55 ; pantry, 21 x 55 ; servants' dining-rooms, each 21 x 55 ; baggage-room, 55 x 21; linen-room, 41 feet square ; airing-room, 20 x 40 ; drying-room, 40 feet square; wash-room, 40 feet square, and other apartments too numerous to mention. This is a most extraordinary disposition of space, and is an indication of the gigantic nature of the whole affair.

    The first or ground story presents the main entrance on New Montgomery Street, with a driveway 20 feet wide ; with sidewalks 10 feet in width: the latter of white marble and the driveway of asphaltum. There are three inner courts, the central one being 144 x 84, which is covered with glass, on a level with the roof of the building. On New Montgomery Street 160 feet are used for hotel purposes, in addition to the driveway. The rest of the New Montgomery Street front, and also the Market Street ironware intended for stores that have a double frontage, one on the street and the other at the arcades in the rear and within the hotel. The central court has a circular driveway of 18 feet, a marble-tiled promenade, and a tropical garden filled with exotic plants, statuary and fountains. It is surrounded on all sides with arcaded galleries on every floor, each twelve feet wide, and forming in itself a continuous promenade. To the right of the main entrance is situated the ladies' door, giving entrance to the Ladies' Reception Room,- 40 feet square. Also two rooms devoted to the' use of the ladies, 15 x 20. $ti the left is the door leading to the reception room for gentlemen, 40 feet square ; also two small rooms, each 15 x 20. On this floor is the office, 55x65; coat and baggage-room, 20 feet square, and two small private dining rooms, each 20 feet square. Breakfast-room, 110 x 55 : ball-room, 64 x55 ; dining-room, 150 x55 : kitchen and pantry, 84x50; space for working-room, servants' stairs, coal and ash-sheds, elevator for service of house, lock-up and pantries, 84x22. Barber-shop, 20x40 ; wash-room, 20x40; public water-closets, 40 feet square; bar-room, 40 feet square; billiard-room, 40 x 60 i four committee-rooms, each 20 feet square. At the rear end of the Courts on this floor, is a magnificent staircase occupying a space 60x30. This story is 27 feet in the clear, except over the stores, where there is an entresol or intermediate story. There are five elevators for the use of the guests and passengers, worked by water, thus affording rapid, easy and safe transit up and down. In addition there are seven other broad stairways, conveniently located for the ingress and egress to and from all parts of the building.

    The second story is divided up entirely into suites of rooms, except rooms for parlors, private dining- rooms, rooms set aside for private entertainment for guests, or for outside parties, as is the case at the Grand Hotel, Paris. The main parlor is 40 feet square, and one on each side 20x40. The house is so constructed that each suite of rooms will be as much withdrawn as if they were in a private house, and are furnished with every Convenience" as to bath rooms, closets, etc. On this floor is also the children and nurses' dining-room, 40 feet square; dining-room for officers of the hotel, 20x40, and ladies' billiard-room, 40 feet square. There are on this floor 138 rooms, one-half 20 feet square, and none less than 16 feet square—15 feet ceilings. Each room has a fireplace; and all the front rooms have a bay window and a closet.,3% x 7. The halls are 12 feet wide, and each 1,434 feet in length, with openings at each end, also on courts, inclosed in glass. The third, fourth, fifth andE sixth stories are similar to the one just described, and the seventh the same, with the exception that the ceilings are 16 feet high. There are seven hundred and fifty-five rooms for guests in the house, above the office-floor. There are 377 bath-rooms, and 348 bay windows.

    The hotel is intended to furnish ample accommodation for 1,200 guests. The rooms are all lighted directly from the open air, and there is not a dark room or hall in the house.

    The furnishing of the hotel has been attended to in a style corresponding with the magnificence of the building. The greatest care has been given to selecting furniture, upholstery, table-ware, bed- clothing and everything necessary to throw the charm of a luxurious *and refined home around the spacious rooms and stately halls. The workshops and warerooms of our own manufacturers and mer- chants have furnished many of the goods for the adornment of this great hostelry.

    When it is taken into consideration that the proprietors and lessee of the great hotel were determined to have nothing but the best of every article, and that the purchasing of the goods was in the hands of thorough business men who had all the markets of the world to choose from, and had the experience necessary to make the best bargains possible, the fact that so many of the supplies were obtained in this city is a high compliment to our resources and the enterprise of our businessmen.

    A. T. Stewart & Co. furnished the elegant upholstery goods, lace curtains and coverings, and the bedding, blankets and toweling. In no other establishment in-the world could the same variety of beautiful upholstery and lace work have been obtained, and the supply of linen, bedding, and even toweling, is of the most complete and elegant description.

    Morris, Delano & Co. furnished the mirrors and plate-glass, which are marvels as to size, and the most superior articles of the kind ever manufactured.

    From the well-known firm of W. & J. Sloane thirty-two miles of carpet were obtained, comprising the greatest variety of patterns—some rich with the most voluptuous coloring and the choicest grouping of flowers and fruit, and others of classic design and quiet beauty.

    The Archer & Pancoast Manufacturing Company furnished the gas fixtures. The order, which amounted to over $60,000, is believed to be the largest single order ever given for similar goods in this country. The gasaliers, brackets, candelabras, etc., are real bronze and gilt. All were made from special designs and are true works of art. Twenty-nine massive 25-light chandeliers were required for the parlors, dining-rooms, ball-room, and corridors, and for superiority of finish and beauty of design they cannot be surpassed. The five-light chandeliers for the 755 private rooms are of a beautiful style recently patented by the Archer & Pancoast Company, and known as the Excelsior Centre Slide or Library Chandelier, which admits of the centre light, with an argand burner, being drawn down to any desired distance. It is very simple and reliable in its mechanical construction, and a new and valuable invention which renders it at once the most popular chandelier now before the public.

    Hayden, Gere & Co. supplied all the brass-work for the plumbing and steam ; also the sanitary ware, shell as wash-basins, etc. All the patterns were new and very elegant in design. The order for this branch of goods was very heavy, and were specimens of splendid workmanship.

    Fisher & Bird, one of the oldest and most reliable houses in New York, furnished the mantels. The best material was used, and the work was intrusted to the most skilled artisans. The designs are chaste and elegant.

    The immense amount of silverware required was manufactured by the celebrated Gorham Manufacturing Company, and the goods furnished by them were especially designed for the hotel, and are worthy of the well-earned reputation of that great manufacturing company.

    The hotel will be opened on the 1st of October, and notwithstanding the colossal size of the building, and the vastness of its accommodations, it will, no doubt, soon be filled with guests. In addition to the yearly increasing number of persons who visit San Francisco on business, thousands of tourists visit California, attracted by the famous natural curiosities of the State and the delightful climate. It is estimated that fully 40,000 people in the North, East and West migrate in Winter to a warmer climate ; and as the climatic advantages offered by. the Pacific Coast are becoming daily better known, the number of visitors to that favored spot is constantly increasing.

Lessee of the Palace Hotel.

WARREN LELAND, of the renowned hotel firm of Leland Brothers, was born in Landgrove, Bennington County, Vt, September 15th, 1828. His father was a stage proprietor and hotel-keeper, and employed his vacant time by practicing law. The family removed to Chester, where Warren attended the Academy until his fifteenth year. A motto of the old gentleman with his boys was, "Work, or go to school." Leaving school in 1844, Warren came to New York, where his elder brothers, Simeon and Charles, were engaged in the hotel business, one at the Clinton Hotel in Beekman Street, the other at the Bond Street House, Broadway. He became a clerk at the Bond Street House, at a salary of ten dollars a month. It was not long before he went to Cleveland, and engaged as clerk with his brother William, who had embarked in the drygoods business in that city. Warren was still restless, and only a year passed when, at the age of seventeen, he made a tour of all the Western States and Territories. Simeon had now bought out the Clinton Hotel, and, in the Spring of 1846, Warren returned to New York, and became a clerk at that establishment.

    On the 15th of December, 1848, he sailed for California, in the ship Florence, the first vessel that left after the reports of the gold discoveries. The passage, around Cape Horn, occupied six months, which time Mr. Leland embraced for a course of reading and study, there being an excellent library on board the ship. In 1849, Mr. Lelarid established, the Pacific News at San Francisco, and realized in the enterprise, in company with another party, one hundred thousand dollars, or fifty thousand each. He took an active part in the organization of; the State of California, and subsequently traveled on horseback over much of that region.

    Mr. Leland returned to New York in the Spring of 1850, and joined his brother Charles in the purchase of the Clinton Hotel, from his brother Simeon, who then retired from business.

Warren Lelend

    Two years later, Warren joined his brothers, Simeon, William and Charles, in leasing the Metropolitan Hotel, then just constructed, and furnished it at an outlay of one hundred arid fifty thousand dollars. In 1852 all the leading hotels were down-town, and it was considered a great risk on the part of the Lelands to attempt to establish one so far up-town.

    In the Spring of 1864, Warren joined his brothers William and Charles in another great hotel enterprise. He united with them in the purchase of Union Hall, Saratoga Springs, which, with subsequent purchases, etc., and improvements, including the Leland Opera House, involved an expenditure of over half a million of dollars. The success of the Union Hotel, under the management of the Lelands, was unparalleled. As many as fifteen hundred guests were accommodated at one time, with nothing lacking in the comforts, luxuries and attentions expected at a first-class fashionable

    In the Fall and Winter of 1864, Mr. Leland made a tour of four months through the gold and silver regions of the United States, and overland to California, Oregon, etc., and back. He was charged with a special Government mission, and traveled in company with that well-known and indefatigable Plains and Rocky Mountain man, Colonel Ben Holliday. From his personal appearance any one would be ready to proclaim that Warren Leland ''Knows How to Keep a Hotel." He is above the average height, broad-shouldered, robust and healthful. Strong and vigorous in physical constitution, he has clear, intelligent perceptions, and unbounded energy. His practical business talents have reduced hotel-keeping to as perfect a system as it can be brought, and his various hotel enterprises, we are happy to add, have resulted in Mr. Leland's achieving a handsome if not an independent fortune.

A Detailed Architectural Description of
The Palace Hotel
"Historical Souvenir of San Francisco, Cal."
as published by
C.P. Heninger
San Francisco

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


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.

C. H. Livingston, Manager.

New Palace Hotel
Booklet for Guests and Rate Card

The following description of the facilities of the new Palace Hotel comes from a pocket sized booklet (seen in the lower left corner of the above illustration) which was published by the Hotel in 1921 for the information of its guests. Included with the booklet is the Palace Hotel's rate card as of January, 1922.

Management of
Halsey E. Manwaring

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.


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.


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 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 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.

The Palm Court (aka The Garden Court) in 2004


Society gathers in the Palm Court for afternoon tea. A splendid orchestra in keeping with the magnificent room, is one of the attractions.


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 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.


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.


The three rooms, the Palm Court, the Rose Room, and the Concert Room, 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 invariably staged.
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 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.

"Maxfield's" (formerly called The Grill) in 2004


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 Pied Piper" by Maxfield Parrish


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

PH Key

1930's Palace Hotel room key (#5008) and metal tags.

The Palace Hotel

(Opened October 2, 1875)


PH Opening

October 17, 1875 

Front page story reporting the opening of the Palace Hotel.

The Daily Alta California, October  17, 1875

Sharon Banquent invitation 1876


Engraved, sterling silver menu for a Dinner at the Palace Hotel 
held in honor of its owner, Sen. William Sharon, in February, 1876.

PH from Mission St


The Palace Hotel as seen from New Montgomery and Mission Streets.

(WATKINS NEW SERIES #3550   "Palace Hotel, S.F.  From Mission Street"  1876)

Ralston, Von Schmidt, Davis



PH Balcony


The seventh and top floor of the Palace Hotel -- known as the "Conservatory Floor" -- contained
a number of 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.

(WATKINS NEW SERIES #3558   "Palace Hotel, S.F. Interior View"  1876)

Palace Hotel from Nob Hill

Late 187o's

When first opened in 1875, the seven story Palace Hotel dominated the then mostly
low rise residential and commercial structures of downtown San Francisco.

Montgomery St

Late 187o's

View of New Montgomery Street from the Palace Hotel.

Grand Hotel

Late 187o's

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.

US Grant visits PH 1879

September 20, 1879

The arrival of former President Ulysses S. Grant at the Palace Hotel for a full week's visit.

"Harper's Weekly", October 25, 1879

US Grant Banquet Oct 25, 1879

October 25, 1879

plaque text
PH Enterence Court 1880s


The Palace Hotel enterance court looking East..

The Palace Hotel 1880


With Lotta's Fountain and early steel framing of the Monadnock Building

The Palace Hotel 1880


With Lotta's Fountain and early steel framing of the Monadnock Building

Grand & Palace Hotels

Early 188o's

Looking 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.

PH 1880s


The Palace Hotel with the Grand Hotel and New Montgomery St. (left),
and Market St. and the Manodnock Building (right).

Overland RR Ticket Office PH

Detail from the above image showing the "Overland RR Ticket Office" located in the Palace Hotel.

The Palace Hotel 1883


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.

Market Street frontage 18802


The Palace Hotel's frontage on Market Street at New Montgomery Street
showing the Overland RR Ticket Office at the corner..

PH EC 1880s


The Palace Hotel carriage enterance court.

Carriage Enterance 1880s


The Palace Hotel enterance from New Montgomery Street for carriages.

AA Sargent 1884 letter


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.) 

1886 Wells Fargo cover

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

PH 1886 Christmas Poster

December, 1886

Palace Hotel "Christmas Poster"
Sharon & Schoenwald, Lessees
The San Francisco News Letter, 1886
Christmas Number

1890 PH cover

March, 1890

Palace Hotel mailed cover with engraved image of the hotel printed on the obverse.




The Grand Hotel, Palace Hotel, and Monadnock Building.

Palace Hotel - Market Street


The view down Market Street from Third Street toward the Ferry Building with the Palace Hotel
visible a block away on the right beyond the Monadnock Building.

Palace Hotel - 1890s


The Grand Hotel (left) and Palace Hotel (right) showing the covered foot bridge
over New Montgomery Street connecting the two.

Palace & Grand Hotels ad 1898


Advertisement for the Palace & Grand Hotels.

JPSouse 1892

April, 1892

John Philip Sousa and his U.S. Marine Corps Band performs
in the Court of the Palace Hotel..

PH & Grand Court 1897


The "Court Café" and Grand Court at the Palace Hotel..

PHRSC 1896 Letter


An 1896 letter from the Republican State Committee of California headquartered at the Palace Hotel
supporting William McKinley for President and Corner Cover with McKinley quote ...

PHRSCC Corner Cover 1896

... and an eventual visit by President McKinley to the Palace in 1901 (below).


May, 1901

PresidentWilliam McKinley visits the Palace Hotel.

Also visible: the Grand Hotel (left), the Monadnock Building (right), and Lotta's Fountain (foreground) 

Original Palace Hotel  San Francisco silver teapot circa 1900


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. 
The teapot was made by the E.H.H. Smith Silver Co., Bridgeport, CT.

PH Date Palm


Large "Date Palm" in the Enterence Court of the Palace Hotel.

PH GC 1905


The Garden Court


With the Hearst (Examiner) and Call Buildings in the foreground



1906 Fire

April 18, 1906 

The fierce fire storm approaches the Palace Hotel (upper left) early in the afternoon of April 18, 1906.

Palace Hotel Burns

April 18, 1906

By the early afternoon of April 18, 1906, the "fireproof" Palace Hotel begins to burn less than twelve hours
after the massive 5:12 A.M. earthquake which led to three days of fires throughout the city that eventually
laid waste to more than 512 city blocks and 28,000 buildings.


PH Escape

April 18, 1906

A first person account of the earthquake by a guest at the Palace Hotel.

The Los Angeles Herald, April 20, 1906.

Ruins New Montgomery St

April, 1906 

Thr ruins of the Palace Hotel (left) and Grand Hotel (right) looking
toward Market Street from New Montgomery Street .

PH looking west on Market Street

April, 1906 

Thr ruins of the Palace Hotel and Grand Hotel looking west on market Street.

PH & Cable Cars from Geary St

April, 1906 

Thr ruins of the Palace Hotel and the Call Building in the distance
and cable cars running along Geary Street.

PH Ruins from Geary St

April, 1906 

Thr ruins of the Palace Hotel as seen from Geary Street.

PH Ruin PPC 1906

April, 1906 

Thr ruins of the Grand Hotel,  Palace Hotel, Monadnock Building, Examiner Building, and Call Building..

PH CB MB 1906

April, 1906 

The ruins of the Palace Hotel, Monadnock Building, and Call Building.

PH MB HB1906

April, 1906 

The ruins of the Palace Hotel, Monadnock Building, and Hearst Building.

April, 1906 

The ruins of the Palace Hotel, Monadnock Building, and Call Building.

April, 1906

The ruins of the Grand Hotel, Palace Hotel, Monadnock Building, and Call Building.

PH After the Fire

April, 1906

After the fire

April, 1906

The ruins of the M.H. DeYoung Building (left), Palace Hotel, Monadnock Building, and Lotta's Fountain.

PH Looters

April, 1906 

Looters seen here picking through the ruins of the Palace Hotel.

fire map

April 18-21, 1906 

Map showing the Palace (red) and Grand (blue) Hotels in the worst fire damaged district of the city.

PH Ruins mid 1906

Summer, 1906 

Remains of the Palace Hotel from Montgomery and Market Streets.

PH Demolition

Summer, 1906 

Demolition of the remains of the Palace Hotel.

Bonanza Inn First Edition 1939 

America's First Luxury Hotel
by Oscar Lewis and Carroll D. Hall

The dustjacket and title page of the seminal
346-page history of the original Palace Hotel

Alfred A. Knopf, New York and London
First Edition, 1939

The "Baby" Palace Hotel
at Post & Leavenworth Streets

(Opened November 17, 1906)


Fall, 1906

The "Baby" Palace Hotel while under construction at the NW corner of Post and Leavenworth Streets.

SF Call Nov 18, 1906

November 17, 1906

The opening of the "Baby" Palace Hotel as reported in the San Francisco CALL.

Social Note - BPH Opening

November, 1906
Newspaper "society note" reporting the first major social event at the new "Baby" Palace Hotel.

BPH from Sutter 1907 illustration

Spring, 1907

Location of the "Baby" Palace Hotel in relation to the destroyed SF City Hall.
(Looking South from Sutter Street just East of Leavenworth Street)

Poat & Leaverworth 2010 ptg


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.

The "New" Palace Hotel

(Opened December 16, 1909

SFC 12./16/09

December 16, 1909

The San Francisco Call reports the opening of the "New" Palace Hotel.

PH opens ad

December 16, 1909

Repoening Banquet

December 16, 1909

Banquet in the Garden Court for the reopening of the "New" Palace Hotel.

New Palace Hotel San Francisco porcelain pin tray Bauscher Brothers Weiden Germany 1909


Fine porcelain "pin" tray created to commemorate the opening
of the "New" Palace Hotel on December 16, 1909.
Made by Bauscher Brothers, Weiden, Germany.

(Click on the above image to see high resolution version.)

PH 1909 PPV


The "New" Palace Hotel. (PPC)

The New Palace Hotel (ppc)


The "New" Palace Hotel, the Monadnock, and the Call Buildings as seen from the corner
of New Montgomery and Markets Streets. (PPC)

PH ppc 1910


The "New" Palace Hotel with Lotta's Fountain in the foreground. (PPC)

PH 1910


The "New" Palace Hotel looking west down Martket Street.

PH PPC 1915


The 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.

PH 1911 ad


Advertisement for the "New" Palace Hotel from the "San Francisco Blue Book."

PH 1912 PPC


The "New" Palace Hotel, the Monadnock, and the Call Buildings as seen from the corner
of New Montgomery and Markets Streets. (PPC)

PH xmas ppc c1910


Christmas and New Year greetings postcard from the "New" Palace Hotel ".

PH 1913 PPC1


The "New" Palace Hotel with streetcars on Market Street in the foreground. (PPC)

Joint PH & FH ad 1915


Joint advertisement 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.

FH pps 1915


The Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill which was then being
operated under lease by the Palace Hotel Company.

Fairmont Hotel San Franciaco room key circa 1915


Room key (D567) for the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill which was
then operated under lease by the Palace Hotel Company.

Preparedness Day parade 1916

Preparedness Parade cars

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.

PD Bombing victims

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.

1921 PH Map


Map showing the location of the Palace Hotel and its Market Street neighbors in 1921.

PH PPC 1920

mid 1920's

The Palace Hotel across Market Street from the M.H. DeYoung Building and Lotta's Fountain.

The Palace Hotel (1920s)


The "New" Palace Hotel, the Monadnock, and the Call Buildings as seen from the corner
of New Montgomery and Markets Streets. 

PH ads c1925


Magazine advertisements for the Palace Hotel. 

Palace Hotel San Francisco Gold Service Plate 1927


A dinner plate from the Palace Hotel's famous "Gold Service" which was used
only on very special occasions. The service was fine Bavarian "Black Knight"
bone china made in 1927
by CM Hutschenreuther AG in Selb, Germany.

Palace Hotel San Francisco Gold Service makers mark

"Black Knight" china maker's mark on Palace Hotel "Gold Service" plate.

PH Gold Logo 200

Palace Hotel San Francisco  brass roomkey fob circa 1930

Circa 1930

The "New" Palace Hotel brass keytag fob. 

Palace Hotel c1930

Circa 1930

The "New" Palace Hotel, the Monadnock Building, and Lotta's Fountain as seen from the corner
of Geary and Markets Streets. 


April 21-28, 1937

Flown Palace Hotel corner cover carried
over FAM Route #14 from San Francisco to Hong Kong (via Honolulu, T.H., Midway I., Wake I., Guam, Manila, P.I., and Macao) on the Pan American Airways Martin M-130 "China Clipper" [San Frncisco to Manila] and PAA Sikorsky S-42B "Samoa Clipper" [Manila-Hong Kong] on the first flight of the extension of theTrans-Pacific Air Mail Route to China.



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.

PH Baggage Labels

1930's - 1950's

Palace Hotel baggage labels.

Lotta's Fountain PH


"Lotta's Fountain"
The Palace Hotel's Cafe

Japanese peace Conference Dinner

September 8, 1951

Over 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.

Hollywood Stars dinner PH GC 1932


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.

RMN PH GC 1957

October 15, 1957

Then Vice President Richand M. Nixon addresses the International Industrial
Development Conference banquet at the Palace Hotel's Garden Court.

NSK PH GC 1959

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.

SPH 1950s Advertisement


A 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.

1957 AA SPH Package


Joint promotion by American Airlines and the Sheraton-Palace Hotel for
package "Flagship Vacations" to San Francisco.

SPH 1960

Early 1960's

The Sheraton-Palace Hotel and Manodnock Building (right). (PPC)
(Note that the balconies have been removed.)


With Lotta's Fountain (foreground) and the Monadnock Building (right)


The Ballroom


The Lobby

PH Lobby Corridor 1925


The Lobby


The Lobby


The Lobby

Garden Court at the New Palace Hotel


The Garden Court

PH GC 1918


The Garden Court

PH GC 1922


The Garden Court

PH GC 1920


The Garden Court

PH GC 1939


The Garden Court

PH GC 1945


The Garden Court

GC 1963


The Garden Court


The Palm Court

Parrish Pied Piper painting 19090


"The Pied Piper of Hamlin" 
by Maxfield Parrish 
(6' x 16')


Pied Piper Bar


Pied Piper Bar

Exhibits courtesy of the Bruce C. Cooper Collections.
Original text, annotations, modern and composite images by Bruce C. Cooper, DigitalImageServices.com.

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