Drake's Fancy, San Francisco 1950s
The Sir Francis Drake Hotel was named after the 16th century English explorer who, on a circumnavigation of the world, paused near San Francisco Bay in June 1579 to repair his galleon and prepare for a journey across the Pacific.
The hotel’s grand opening in downtown Union Square in 1928 was celebrated by a crowd of 10,000 who marveled at the hotel’s amenities such as an indoor golf course, ice water on tap and radios in every one of the 416 rooms.
Designed to reflect the European Renaissance of Drake’s era, architectural elements included a grand marble staircase, vaulted gold-leafed embossed ceilings with extravagant chandeliers and bas-relief detail. Lobby paintings depicted Drake’s explorations.
Despite the Great Depression, the hotel prospered, survived Prohibition (there was a secret room where booze was stored) and attracted wealthy guests and celebrities of the day. During WWII, blocks of rooms were taken over by the military and the hotel was the scene of many tearful farewells and joyous reunions as troops went back and forth across the Pacific.
This charming menu illustration of dancing ducks came from the hotel’s soda fountain – we love the ‘fancy pants’ sundaes. We believe it is from the late 40s or early 50s.
The Sir Francis Drake has been bought and sold over the years, restored with love, and is currently closed because of the pandemic. We hope it will return soon in its full glory.
*Courtesy The Chapman S Root collection at the Culinary Institute of America’s Menu Collection.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.