For public relations director Melissa Farrar, working for the Fairmont after moving from Los Angeles was a great way to get to know the city.
“People joke that ‘It’s a hotel so grand they built a city around it,” Farrar said.
And it’s clear the Fairmont is proud of the past – visitors can discover the hotel’s story through its Heritage Hallway of pictures.
Completed in 1906, the hotel was the brainchild of Tesse and Virginia Fair to honor their father James Graham Fair, one of the city’s wealthiest citizens. It was scheduled to open the day of the 1906 earthquake, Farrar said, and then served as the center for recovery afterwards. It was restored and reopened a year later under architect Julia Morgan, and would soon be known around the world.
A political player all on its own
Over the years the Fairmont has hosted a number of world leaders visiting the United States including Queen Tonga, former Israeli president Chaim Herzog, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The “White House of the West” has also welcomed every American president since President Taft. In June 1945 global politics were changed forever at the hotel with the signing of the United Nations charter.
Destination for the stars
The Fairmont has also played a role in cinema and music history. It was a filming location for several movies including “The Towering Inferno,” “Vertigo” and “Dirty Harry.” Farrar said the hotel was director Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite place to stay in San Francisco. Famed musicians have also performed at the Fairmont, including B.B. King and James Brown. Tony Bennett first sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in the hotel’s Venetian Room.
Worldwide brand born in San Francisco
Though the Fairmont brand owns dozens of properties worldwide its roots are in San Francisco, and Farrar said the hotel has always been involved in community efforts. When the San Francisco Giants qualified for the World Series in 2012 the hotel held a “huge party” to celebrate, Farrar said. The Fairmont is part of the “fabric of the city.”
“People really do feel part of it, that it’s their hotel.”