Professor Emeritus Marvin Nathan Discusses History of Willis Polk's Hallidie Building

Thursday, March 08, 2018
Photo of the Hallidie Building in San Francisco

CURBED SAN FRANCISCO -- As professor emeritus at San Francisco State University, Marvin Nathan wrote, in a 1987 piece for the California Historical Courier, that Polk hinted that he wanted to give San Francisco a nod to London’s famed Crystal Palace, and perhaps he was pushed by the client to provide “more light and warmth in San Francisco’s changeable climate than conventional structures would allow.” Polk himself told the San Francisco Examiner that he’d nicknamed it the Munchausen Building, after the story of Baron Munchausen pulling a bear “wrong side out” with his bare hands.

“And that’s what I’ve done,” said Polk. “I’ve turned a building wrong side out.”

Photo by Šarūnas Burdulis