Thursday, November 19, 2015

Selling off San Francisco's iconic Palace of Fine Arts to the highest bidder


The lyrics “They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot” could be applied to San Francisco’s Park and Recreation’s top proposals for what to do with our Iconic Palace of Fine Arts. It could have provided the sound track for today's meeting at San Francisco city hall.

Widely considered the most beautiful structure at the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, the Palace of Fine Arts — housing art from Renaissance to Modern — was the work of California architect Bernard Maybeck. Maybeck’s fantastic creation, inspired by a Piranesi engraving, featured a Roman ruin reflected in a pool. According to Maybeck, this ruin existed not for its own sake but to show “the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes.” Like other features of the fair, the Palace was intended as ephemeral; at the close of the exposition, it would come down.

But the Palace survived, thanks to the Palace Preservation League, founded by Phoebe Apperson Hearst while the fair was still in progress. By 1964, the Palace had deteriorated badly and the Rotunda and Colonnades were rebuilt, thanks to the generosity of Walter S. Johnson.

The Palace as a public space is again hanging on by its fingernails. How do the words “privatize” and “monetize” sound to you? From the Parks and Recreation's incessant talk of needing money, you’d think that SF was a poor city, instead of a wealthy one, full of those who can afford 5 million dollar condos with an equally expensive life style. In 1915, the city was able to raise 4 million dollars in a matter of hours. Are our current city masters so poor that they can’t raise the 2015 equivalent?

More at: http://www.examiner.com/article/selling-off-sf-s-iconic-palace-of-fine-arts-to-the-highest-bidder

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