19 July 2016 | philharve
History of the 'old' Hall of Justice, Ironside's home and office
There have been three Halls of Justice buildings in San Francisco's history and the building that appears in every episode of Ironside, which ran from 1967 to 1975, was the 'second' Hall of Justice and it is often referred to as the 'Old' Hall of Justice. It contained the city's jail, police station, courtrooms, and District Attorneys Office. Its address was 750 Kearny Street, which placed it on the east side of Kearny between Washington and Merchant.
The 'original' and 'first' Hall of Justice stood on the same spot but was destroyed in the great San Francisco earthquake on 18th April 1906 during which it burnt to the ground. The original building bore a passing resemblance to its successor except for the addition of a tall clock tower that overlooked Kearny Street.
The Old Hall of Justice was first occupied in 1912 but by 1950 it had outgrown the purpose for which it was built. A 'third' larger Hall of Justice was built about 11/2 miles distant on a new site at 850 Bryant Street, between 7th and Harriet.
The Old Hall of Justice was finally abandoned in 1961 and was subsequently gutted of its luxurious fixtures and fittings, comprising wood and marble panelling, brass door knobs and hinges, carpets, furniture and other decorative features. It was finally demolished in 1967 after standing derelict.
Stock footage of the derelict building was used to highlight the location of Ironside's office, which was on the top floor, left hand side, as viewed from the front of the building. A row of semi-circular windows adorned the top floor offices. Ironside's office, which also doubled as his apartment complete with semi-circular window, was recreated in the studio for the filming of the series.
Also seen in the same stock footage is the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, which is located a short distance to the north of Portsmouth Square. Portsmouth Square, which is located on Kearny between Washington and Clay, was once the centre of 'old' San Francisco and is now part of the Chinatown district of the city.
Looking eastward from Portsmouth Square prior to 1967, the frontal view of the Old Hall of Justice would have been instantly familiar to Ironside fans. Its sides and rear aspects were never filmed, presumably because they were far less attractive.
Midway along the front of the Old Hall of Justice was a street-level entrance to an underground car park. It was through this narrow entrance that Ironside's personal transporter, a grey-painted, blue-striped, supercharged police van, originally painted black, was occasionally seen to use. His subsequent transport, a sand-coloured Ford van, which was introduced into the series after the police van was destroyed in one episode, is never seen near the Old Hall of Justice because the building had been demolished and a new building was in the course of erection.
Today, the site is occupied by the 27-floor, Hilton San Francisco Financial District Hotel and the Chinese Cultural Centre, which share the same address. Behind the Hilton Hotel on Montgomery Street stands the famous Transamerica Pyramid, another of San Francisco's noteworthy landmark buildings.
There are ongoing arguments concerning the wisdom of demolishing a building such as the Old Hall of Justice and replacing it with a modern skyscraper structure. Many of San Francisco's inhabitants regard the design and appearance of the Old Hall of Justice as having more character and beauty than the edifices that replaced it.