The Castro Theatre, the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Headquarters, 450 Sutter Medico-Dental Buildingthesemasterpieces of San Francisco's Art Deco heritage are the work of one man: Timothy Pflueger. An immigrant's sonwith only a grade-school education, Pflueger began practicing architecture after San Francisco's 1906 earthquake. While his contemporaries looked to Beaux-Arts traditions to rebuild the city, he brought exotic Mayan, Asian, and Egyptian forms to buildings ranging from simple cocktail lounges to the city's first skyscrapers. Pflueger was one of the city's most prolificarchitects during his 40-year career. He designed two major downtown skyscrapers, two stock exchanges, several neighborhood theaters, movie palaces for four smaller cities (including the beloved Paramount in Oakland), some ofthe city's biggest schools, and at least 50 homes. His works include the San Francisco Stock Exchange, the ever-popularTop of the Mark, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and the San Francisco World's Fair. It is a testament to his talentthat many of his buildings still stand and many have been named landmarks. Therese Poletti tells the fascinating story of Pflueger's life and work in Art Deco San Francisco. In lively detail, she relates how Pflueger built extravagant compositions in metal, concrete, and glass. She also tells the story behind the architecture: Pflueger's commissioning and support of muralist Diego Rivera, his association with photographer Ansel Adams and sculptor Ralph Stackpole, and his childhood friendship turned to adulthood sponsorship with San Francisco Mayor James Sunny Rolph Jr. Beautiful archival photography mixes with stunning new photography in this collection of a truly Californian, but ultimately American, story.
Therese Poletti has been a journalist for nearly 20 years. She has written for the San Jose Mercury News and currently works for MarketWatch as a technology columnist. She lives in San Francisco.