Palace Hotel

The Palace Hotel was advertised as the largest hotel in the American West, if not the largest hotel in the world. It was the vision of William Ralston, co-founder of the Bank of California, but he did not live to see its opening. The Bank of California, weakened by the 1873 depression, the dropping value of the Comstock Lode mining stocks, fraud, and Ralston’s over extended debt, collapsed after a run on the bank. In response, the Bank’s Board of Directors ousted Ralston, and the next day he died during his daily swim on the Bay. While the autopsy said his death was due to a stroke, rumors of suicide were very prevalent.

Many of the Palace residents made the hotel their permanent homes, drawn there by amenities like the restaurants, elegant parlors, a billiard room, and beautifully furnished rooms. The rooms are expressly arranged for use, either singly or in suites of two or more. Their connections and approaches are such that an individual, family, or a party of any size can have a suite of any number of rooms, combining the seclusion of the most elegant private residence with the numberless luxuries of the most perfect hotel. Every outer room has its bay window, while every parlor and guest chamber has its own private toilet, ample clothes closet, and fire grate.

It was intended to be the height of luxury and to contain the newest technologies. It had five hydraulic elevators (reputedly the first in the West), electric call buttons in each room, plumbing and private toilets, shared baths every two rooms, closets, telegraph for staff on each floor, a pneumatic tube system throughout the hotel, air-conditioning in each room, and fireplaces and bay windows in each room.


Further information:

Back to San Francisco

Palace hotel engraving

Palace Hotel

Gold in Peace, Iron in War eddyfate eddyfate