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    Leading Expert on San Francisco’s Civic Center Sheds Light on This City Hub in New Book

    The San Francisco Civic Center was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places eleven years later. We locals often take for granted its impressive buildings in the classical architectural style that hold historic importance. For example, the United Nations Charter was signed in the War Memorial Veterans Building’s Herbst Theatre in 1945, leading to the creation of the United Nations. It is also where the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco—the peace treaty that officially ended the Pacific War with the Empire of Japan, which had surrendered in 1945—was signed.

    From an architectural standpoint, the Civic Center is arguably the best manifestation of the early twentieth century American City Beautiful Movement. However, the information presented to the world, the region and to local citizens about San Francisco rarely mentions it. Although more than a billion dollars has been spent to restore the Civic Center buildings damaged by the 1989 earthquake and to build three new ones, James Haas of the Civic Center Community Benefit District and many others believe that the surrounding area has often been neglected.

    Haas, who has devoted nearly thirty-five years to advocacy for the renewal and completion of Civic Center’s restoration, addresses related topics in his new book The San Francisco Civic Center: The History of the Design, Controversies and Realization of a City Beautiful Masterpiece (University of Nevada Press, 2019).

    Haas tells the compelling story of the 150-year history of the Civic Center, describing the personalities, the politics and the dreams up to the present. He also played a crucial role in much of the recent development in the area including, after twenty years of effort, convincing the late Mayor Edwin Lee in 2014 to direct the Planning Department to prepare a public realm plan for the area. The final draft of that plan has been recently released to the public for discussion.

    To learn more, visit Haas’ website “Civic Center Stories”:

    For information about his new book: