New and Venerable Institutions: Neiman Marcus Facelift

Before and After: Select the image for full frame.
Before photo by The Shooter's Gallery.
After photo by Mister SF.

Its central plaza wasn't the only Union Square landmark that got a makeover in 2002. The Neiman Marcus at Geary and Stockton Streets went square - real square, man - as part of a remodeling initiative aimed at increasing the department store's retail floor space and improving seismic safety. The location is the former site of San Francisco's beloved City of Paris department store, which was torn down in the early 1980s to make way for Neiman Marcus. The City of Paris was an institution rooted in Old San Francisco's City of Paris Dry Goods Company. The beaux arts building that housed it was deemed obsolete and incompatible with the requirements of a contemporary department store. The building was torn down after much of the debate still familiar today to both developers and preservationists. The 1980 building was designed by prominent architects Phillip Johnson and John Burgee. Johnson and Burgee moved the elegant City of Paris skylight from its original location but incorporated it into the modern structure. The rotunda restaurant here is the most frequently stated location of the famous urban legend about a woman who asks what's the charge for the restaurant's cookie recipe, is told "five," agrees, is charged five hundred dollars, is refused a refund, then publishes the recipe in the local paper for revenge.

Copyright 2002 Hank Donat home