When did the store "City Of Paris" Close it's doors?

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Hello, I have a set of english hunting scene prints which were framed by the now closed "City Of Paris" shop in San Francisco. Can someone tell me what years the shop was in operation? These prints look like they may have been framed in the late 1960's or early 1970's. Any help would be much appreciated!

-- Theresa Thornton (celtichorseman@sprintmail.com), February 19, 2004


The City of Paris was replaced by Neiman Marcus in 1980.

Good luck in your research.

-- Kurt Iversen (iversenk@aol.com), February 20, 2004.

Well, I think it was earlier than 1980 that Nieman Marcus took over the City of Paris because I'm 80% sure that it was taken over in 1972. And I'm 98% percent sure that City of Paris opened its doors in 1909, the year the 1909s vdb penny came out, one of the most sought after of all Lincoln head pennies. That is why I remember the date.

-- Harry Murphy (harrymurphy*@bigmailbox.net), February 20, 2004.

Ummm, Harry I'm 98% sure City of Paris opened its doors (well, hatch might be more appropriate) in 1850 on board a ship, or a hulk of a ship in the bay. I'm 2% sure that they opened their doors at the Union square site in 1909 after recovering from the 1906 fire. I'll trade you a 1909 S VDB for a 1943 copper Lincoln head cent (wink). Heck, I'd even trade for an uncirculated 1914 D Lincoln head cent.

It's fuzzy math for me because I can't confirm it but I think both you and Kurt are sort of right. I believe the City of Paris may have closed around 1972 but that the building sat vacant for a long time before Nieman Marcus opened in 1980. Remember the big flap about "Needless markup" (my edit) wanting to raze the building and rebuild to their desires? Boy, that story was around for a long time and happily the City finally nixed that plan. Humph, imagine Texans trying to tell San Francisco how to do things!

-- will (willstaiger@yahoo.com), February 20, 2004.

NO. 876 CITY OF PARIS BUILDING - It was 1850 when the Verdier brothers, immigrants from France, opened a store aboard the ship La Ville de Paris to serve the Argonauts passing through San Francisco's harbor. In 1896 the business, which stayed in the family for over a century and a quarter, moved into a new building designed by architect Clinton Day, damaged by the 1906 earthquake, its interior was reconstructed by architects John Bakewell and Arthur J. Brown. The old City of Paris building was one of the finest examples of the beaux-arts style of commercial building in California. Location: SE corner of Geary and Stockton Sts, San Francisco

http://ceres.ca.gov/geo_area/counties/San_Francisco/landmarks.html I'm not strong in French but I believe La Ville de Paris translates to "City of Paris". Cool. Interesting, the paragraph also says the the business stayed in the family for over a century and a quarter, making the closure closer to 1975. Hmmm, just when did they close?

-- will (willstaiger@yahoo.com), February 21, 2004.

1975. Will, they did tear it down but those "Texans" were forced to knuckle under and save the famous rotunda and glass dome. Here is an interesting article on its restoration. Take that, you Texans!


The original store traced its roots back to the mid-1800s and the California Gold Rush. An enterprising hosiery manufacturer, Felix Verdier of Nimes, France, sent his brother, Emile, to America’s West Coast with a cargo of finery as yet unobtainable in the still “uncivilized” West. The graceful sailing ship, LaVille de Paris, carried pure silks, delicate laces, stylish hats, and the best wines and perfumes to the wives of the newly-rich gold miners. The delighted women, who had been deprived of such luxuries, soon depleted the ship’s stock, and in its place sprang up a family business that was to serve San Francisco for over 115 years. Named after the beautiful schooner, the City of Paris had several locations until finally entrenching itself as a landmark on Union Square. Following fire damage in the wake of the 1906 earthquake, the building was replaced by the French-trained architectural firm of Blakewell and Brown and the French architect, Louis Bourgeois. The rotunda became the focal point, the very heart of the building, which eventually achieved state and national listings on the National Register of Historic Places.

The issue reached a compromise of sorts, the court allowing the demolition of the building and Johnson, in turn, pledging to save the whole rotunda, including its dome, and to wrap his new structure around it. The dismantling and restoration was subcontracted to Whister-Patri of San Francisco, a fortuitous decision, since the firm had been involved in other adaptive reuse building projects. Cummings Studios was hired as a stained glass consultant to advise Whisler-Patri on such issues as safety, logistics, the involvement of union workers, and technical details such as proper ventilation.



-- Martha P (Mertpear@yahoo.com), February 22, 2004.

The Emporium shares the same fate as the City of Paris gold rush era retail store. Survives the '06 but the gentile department store dies to be replaced by the econo box style.

Both grand glass domes have been saved.

If anyone is interested I do have over 1800 photos of San Francisco on CD for research...nearly all are from the SF Call. A big variety. Cost is only to cover burning and mailing. 10 bucks.

-- William Ian Williams (oceans1129@yahoo.com), March 12, 2004.

William, does your CD have a search system? Index? Record notes?

Detail of stained glass ceiling at the City of Paris department store.

City of Paris department store at the corner of Grant Avenue and Geary Street - 1880.∞

-- strange (stranger@yahoo.com), March 12, 2004.

City of Paris department store at the corner of Grant Avenue and Geary Street - 1880

City of Paris Dry Goods Co. building seen from Union Square, after the 1906 earthquake]

-- strange (stranger@yahoo.com), March 12, 2004.

The original City of Paris closed on March 28, 1972. Just a few weeks before, Amfac Corporation of Hawaii had swooped down and 'saved' the City of Paris. After closing for a few month's remodel (mainly to install ghastly 70's era green and purple carpeting in the ladies' departments), they reopened as 'City of Paris by Liberty House' and operated it as a branch of their new Liberty House California division for 2 years (1972-1974) in the landmark Geary Street building while they tore down the O'Farrell building to build a new Liberty House store. When the new store opened in September 1974 it was a typical, modern, boring 70's department store showing no evidence of the proud City of Paris heritage with the notable exception of Normandy Lane, the gourmet food and wine departments which operated in the basement of the new store. After 10 unprofitable years, Liberty House left town with its tail between its legs having given up on California. That building is now Macy's Mens Store. Back to 1972: Neiman-Marcus owned the now- empty Geary building and wanted to tear it down for a new store. While the preservationists campaigned to save the building (with future mayor Willie Brown as the attorney for Neiman-Marcus proving once again that he was available for sale to the highest bidder), Amfac operated a Joseph Magnin clearance center, 'Magnarama', in a corner of the vast first floor inside the Stockton Street door of the old store. The planning commission finally buckled under and approved demolition when N-M and their architect, the by-now somewhat wobbly Philip Johnson, agreed to dismantle the City of Paris rotunda and reinstall it in their new store. So in 1982, the new Neiman-Marcus store opened with the glorious City of Paris rotunda moved from the center of the store to the Stockton Street entrance. But it feels out of place in the corner and looks washed out by all the light pouring in through the glass. And in the ultimate act of hypocracy, on opening day Neiman-Marcus offered two items for sale 1) a City of Paris rotunda silk scarf and 2) 'deluxe' City of Paris rotunda wrapping paper, trying to cash in on the very thing they fought so very hard to distroy.

-- Paul Engel (pengel@sharperimage.com), March 29, 2004.

Paul Engel, thanks for the clarifaction. That clears up my fuzzy math years.

To sum it up:

City of Paris closed in 1972.
City of Paris ('City of Paris by Liberty House') closed in 1974.
Sat vacant till it was torn down around 1980 (glass dome removed)
Opened as Neiman Marcus in 1982 with restored dome.

Do I have it right this time (in a humble voice)?

-- will (willstaiger@yahoo.com), March 29, 2004.

My father, Thomas FitzGerald, did the structural engineering feasibility study on the building conversion and relocation of the rotunda.

-- Terri Alvillar (rosieres@aol.com), July 22, 2004.

I don'tknow what year the City Of Paris closed.My father worked there in the 50's and as a kid will never forget Christmas season that giant tree that was put in my dad help put that tree up every season. What a site to being on the top floor looking down on that tree some thing I will never forget! That was a department store that was matched by non then and never will be. I have to channel back chairs that came out of the office in the City of Paris Department store not sure if my dad bought them or when they put new chairs in the office if they were given to him. When you are growing up there are some things that really impress you and I never will forget that store is one and the first SF Giants game I saw in the old Seals ball park.Is the City OF Paris building still there?

-- Richard Skinner (bankingeagle@peoplepc.com), August 05, 2004.

I was doing a search for City of Paris just to see what info was out there. My grandmother was a model for the store around the late teens or early 1920s. So it just all sounds interesting to me! But I don't know anything about the store other than that is was an impressive place.

-- Susan Van Wynen (susan_van_wynen@wycliffe.org), August 07, 2004.

By accident I found the web site on the City of Paris dept store in SF. My interest is a bit more complicated, given that I am looking for any information on the following stores located in Paris around the late 1840s, early 1850s. On store was called Ville de Paris, and it opened in Paris, 1843 . Then this other store called Aux Villes de France magasins de nouveautés (more than one store?) was operating in 1851 at the time of the Crystal Palace in London. I actually have an ad of this store published in a book of the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition. But I don't know (1) if the two names are related. (2) if the store Ville de Paris was related to City of Paris dept store in SF. (3) I haven't been able to find any information on the Aux Villes de France magasins de nouveautés, even after contacting the International Association of Department Stores, based in Paris. Can you help?

-- Robert Tamilia (tamilia.robert@uqam.ca), August 20, 2004.

I apologize if I'm off-topic, but it does relate to San Francisco department stores.

I'm a model railroad enthusiast, and I recall a seeing a large model train layout during the holidays in the Emporium Department store, for many years.

I believe the store closed in 1982 (if anyone can provide the exact date, it would be appreciated).

I'm just wondering what became of that very large model train layout which duplicated the Market street cable car turnaround and nearby streets. Even the Emporium department store was modeled.

Thanks for any information you can provide!!

-- John Chamberson (chamberson@aol.com), February 12, 2005.

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