City of Paris department store.
Archive photo by Peter Fink.
Corner of Geary and Stockton Streets: Then and Now.
|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.