Picturesque lagoon to reopen

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Palace of Fine Arts spot seen in films, pictures, weddings restored after year of work

One of The City’s most photographed attractions is set to reopen this weekend after a year of reconstruction.

The famed lagoon in front of the Palace of Fine Arts was created in 1915 for the Panama Pacific International Exposition. In 2002, The City, along with the nonprofit Maybeck Foundation, raised $21 million to restore the famed building and its adjacent lagoon in the Marina district. The Palace of Fine Arts complex was designated a national historic site last year.

Work started in August 2005 to restore the lagoon, whose eastern edge was collapsing into itself and was in desperate need of replacing. For the last year a fence has surrounded the green water and its wading swans as the lagoon went through a $6 million upgrade to improve its water quality, to correct the erosion problem and to dredge the lagoon and install a new water circulation and aeration system.

“It’s one of the most photographed places in the world [and] people have wanted to get it back to its original face, where it is today,” Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Rose Marie Dennis said.

The site has been popular in several movies and for weddings, according to Dennis. But portions of the lagoon and its adjacent gardens were closed off to the public because the edges of the ground were falling into the lagoon.

While reconstruction of the lagoon was completed by August, the construction fence is scheduled to come down for the first time this weekend. The City kept the area closed off to give new plants and trees brought into the area time to grow.

Dennis said the lagoon reconstruction is just part of the ongoing restoration of the Palace of Fine Arts. The roof of the adjacent rotunda is also part of the restoration of the site, which was last upgraded in 1962, according to the Recreation and Park Department.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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