Visited the Palace of Fine Arts at Night (322/366)


“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.”
John Keats

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition – a World’s Fair held between February 20 and December 4 in 1915, to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal  – but also somewhat as an opportunity to showcase the City’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake.  It was framed in wood and covered with plaster and burlap-type material, and was meant to just be temporary – for the expo – but people loved the structure so much a Palace Preservation League was created during the fair to save it from demolition after the end of the event.

Though the Palace wasn’t torn down at the end of the fair, it was not built to last, and the original structure was demolished in 1964 and rebuilt in permanent, lightweight concrete and steel.  It remains a beautiful landmark that is visited every day by tourists as well as locals, and though our friend Ryan has lived in the Bay Area for years, he mentioned that he’d never visited the Palace of Fine Arts at night before.  I realized I never had either, so after having my first crab from a stall at Fisherman’s Wharf (and an Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista), in the very early hours of the day today, we went to see the Palace, all lit up.

Like I said, it was early, early morning – about 2am – and I was worried there would be some kind of signs like in parks that warn against being there at that hour, but there weren’t any, which was nice.  Then I thought maybe we’d find some trouble – like punk kids, or some shifty person hiding out – but there was none of that either.  There was a couple sitting on the floor inside the rotunda, just cozily talking, and they actually left when we got there – I think we ruined their romantic setting – sorry!

I’ve always thought the Palace was beautiful during the day, but I must say it takes on an equally beautiful, yet very different personality at night.  It is warm, and regal, and mysterious all at the same time.  It really was lovely.


We walked around the whole structure, enjoying the scenery and taking pictures.  Here are a few panoramas:

This was great.  If you’re ever in the Marina in San Francisco and want some evening (or early morning) inspiration, swing by the Palace of Fine Arts.  During the day it’s beautiful, but there are people around – at night you may be able to get the whole place to yourself for a bit.  I love SF.

Related Links:
Palace of Fine Arts page on sfrecpark.org

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