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  • Writer's pictureJenna Broughton

A look into the past: 140 New Montgomery Street

Updated: May 2, 2021

At 7×7 San Francisco is the perfect walking city – albeit very hilly. I try to take advantage of it every chance I get, and also use it as justification for my often-indulgent meals out. While being able to increase my normal daily caloric intake is certainly as good as reason as any to take a stroll, walking around the city is also great for seeing stuff that you would ordinarily miss – like some of the beautiful architecture that makes up the San Francisco skyline.

One of the buildings that stands out among the others is 140 New Montgomery Street or the PacBell building, which was designed by Timothy Ludwig Pflueger in the 20s. The art deco structure stands at 26 stories in all its grandeur. When construction started on the building back in 1924 it was also considered the first significant skyscraper in San Francisco.

In 2007 AT&T sold the building to Wilson Meany, real estate investment and development firm. For the past 5+ years the building has sat dormant – leaving some intrigued as to what would become of the building. Then in early 2012 work began to revamp the space and turn it into commercial office space.

Even before the work started, my friend and I made it our mission to get inside this building. While trying to persuade the security guard to let us in one night was a valiant effort it was also a fail. I wish I could say that I was really edgy and cool and decided to pursue urban exploration, but the truth is that through six degrees of separation my friend scored a tour with the developers of the project.

Most of the innards of the historic building have now been demolished, but there are still some remnants of what once was. The developers have are working to preserve the lobby, which is stunning with its black marble walls, bronze metal work and highly stylized plaster ceiling. I loved hearing the stories of how throughout the process the developers found a button to a secret passage, or how upon tearing down one wall they would find several others. But mostly I liked to think about the Roaring Twenties and imagine the decadence and raucous behavior that once lived within these walls.

The 1920s are characterized by opulence and creativity, which is a spirit that lives on at 140 Montgomery Street. Check out some of the pictures from my tour below.

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