John Galen Howard, UC Berkeley’s campus architect and founder of the School of Architecture, served on the competition panel for the new City Hall. He contributed to San Francisco’s municipal beautification with the Civic Auditorium, which was built for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. William C. Hays' State Building is another example of City Beautiful’s neo-classical design.
The photograph from the 1940s shows both the success of civic center design and the subsequent human abandonment that surrounded it – in large measure due to the rise of the automobile. By this time cars were the primary means of access to the Civic Center for people living in the outer neighborhoods and suburbs.