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Goddess of Progress

Sometimes known as the Goddess of Liberty, the statue was one of the more picturesque ruins of the Great Earthquake.

The head was apparently given to John C. Irvine by former mayor James D. Phelan after it was removed from the old City Hall. It was, later, owned by his son, William Irvine.

It then came into possession of the South of Market Boys who gave it back to the city April 18, 1950, the 44th anniversary of the Great Earthquake.

It was later displayed in Golden Gate Park, then placed in storage.

Seven years later, in 1957, the head was sold, along with several cable cars, at public auction to Knott's Berry Farm, a Southern California amusement park. It was given back to the city by Knott's Berry Farm in the mid-1970s.

The goddess was, for many years, displayed at the Fire Department Museum, but was moved in 1993 to the Museum of the City of San Francisco. The goddess was then moved to City Hall in 1998 to celebrate the reopening of the structure after it was repaired following the 1989 earthquake. It will be the centerpiece of the Museum's exibit space in the Light Court of City Hall.

The electric lights which crown the goddess like a wreath were not original to the sculpture, but added sometime after the statute was taken down from City Hall, but before its sale to the amusement park.

Goddess Comes Down at Last

Liberty's Dethronement — Breaks at Waist and Many View Remains

With her graceful waist parted in twain from the cruel embrace of a cable wire and hauled to the dust from a position of pride as leading lady of the city, a place which even the earthquake permitted to hold, the goddess of the city hall dome came down yesterday in two pieces, a broken goddess who had outlived her usefulness in pointing the way to San Francisco from her lofty height.

A large crowd gathered to view the remains, and they will lay in state for a day or two longer. Treasurer McDougald has been promised her head in case she is broken up for junk.

San Francisco Evening Post
March 12, 1909

The "Goddess of Progress" was sculpted by Marion Wells, probably in the 1870s, during the early construction phase of City Hall. The head weighs 400 pounds.

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