The Head of The Goddess of Progress – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

The Head of The Goddess of Progress

This giant head is all that remains of a once proud statue that survived an earthquake but not a fall off of a wagon. 


Sitting in San Francisco’s city hall is a giant bronze head that stares impassively at all who pass by her, rarely paying any notice, but at the time of her creation the head was part of a proud and beautiful statue that stood tall atop the government building.

The Goddess of Progress was a towering 20-foot tall statue that stood atop San Francisco’s original city hall. The proud figure jutted out from the building’s central dome looking like the kind of iconic symbol that that comes to represent a whole city. Unfortunately this famous fate was not in the cards for the golden lady. In 1906 a massive earthquake rocked the city and the historic city hall building collapsed. Miraculously however the Goddess of Progress remained standing, lording over a pile of rubble.

It was not until the statue was taken down from the site that the fair maiden lost her head. During transit to her new home, the bronze figure fell off of the wagon and her head broke off. After this tragic beheading, the 700-pound head moved around quite a bit landing in the possession of a street gang before being given back to the city who placed the piece in Golden Gate Park. It was not until the 1990s that the head was placed in its current location where it sits as a lovingly preserved monument to the city’s past.

Oddly, while the head has quite the storied history, the body of the Goddess of Progress has never been found.

Know Before You Go

City Hall is open Monday through Friday, 8 amto 5 pm. The "Head" is located in a room entitled South Light Court. 

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