Before 1904


The Baldwin Hotel & Theater (owned by historical figure "Lucky" Baldwin) occupied the site of today's Flood Building. It was destroyed by fire in 1898.  In 1902, James L. Flood purchased the plot of land that held the remains of the Baldwin Hotel and hired architect Albert Pissis to build a building in honor of his late father James Clair Flood, who passed away in 1889.  The twelve-story, 293,837 square foot building cost $1,500,000 and was completed in 1904. At that time, it was the largest building in the city of San Francisco.

The 1906 Earthquake

The Flood Building was one of the few buildings to survive both the devastation of the 1906 earthquake, and the subsequent great fire. The steel frame structure with brick curtain walls covered in gray Colusa sandstone proved to be substantial enough to withstand the most deadly forces of nature.  The building was restored and opened in 1907 with Southern Pacific Railroad as its primary tenant, where it remained until 1917.  After the departure of Southern Pacific, the Flood Building was remodeled again to accommodate for dental and medical offices. It remained a medical center through the 1920's, '30s and '40s.


The year is: 1945

After almost 30 years as a medical and dental center the Woolworth's Department Store took over the first and second floors as well as the basement in 1945. The basement had previously housed 11 retailers. However, the war years were hard on the building and Woolworth's offered to demolish the landmark in 1951. It was to be replaced with a three-story structure housing Woolworth's Department Store and offices.  Luckily, the Federal Government saved the building by appropriating space to house war-time agencies such as the Price Stabilization and Civil Defense offices. They also enforced a construction ban brought on by the US participation in the Korean War.

Back to commercial use again

The government subsequently relinquished its occupancy and the structure reverted to commercial office space in 1953, though dramatic changes had been made in the interior to accommodate for large offices.  The Woolworth's Department Store located in the Flood Building was the largest in the United States until 1992, when it was downsized. They remained a tenant until 1996.


Renovation: 1990s

The building underwent a major renovation in the early 90's. One of the most important aspects of the building's revitalization was to recover the original look of the ground floor and retail areas that had been "modernized" in 1952. The renovation included replacing several of the triumphal arched entryways to the building, façade restoration on the upper stories, refurbishing many of the detail ornaments, and recreating the parapet in polymer concrete.  This elaborate project took over a year to complete.


The Flood Building is a microcosm of San Francisco, housing over 250 diverse tenants from all over the globe. The building also boast the flagship stores for Gap, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, as well as a Sunglass Hut and Watch Station store on the ground floor.  In addition, the building houses several Consulates and a significant number of non-profit organizations.  In 2004 the Flood Building celebrated 100 years as a center for business in San Francisco.