The year 2015 marked the one-hundredth anniversary of San Francisco City Hall. I didn’t know that when I entered the building on June 19th, intending to photograph its dome, the tallest in the United States. Workers preparing for the building’s centennial celebration prevented me from making my photograph.

When I returned days later, it wasn’t just the dome that captivated me but also what took place underneath it. The human parade, from brides to bureaucrats, gave life to City Hall, transforming its rotunda, grand staircase, and light courts into an epic theater, a stage on which daily business took on a lofty timelessness. As a photographer, I was transfixed by the juxtaposition of the common with the classic. What began as a quick visit to photograph the dome became a six-month immersion into life inside this Beaux Art masterpiece.

I created this series on my iPhone, using the Instagram app. Going mobile allowed me to blend in with tourists while furtively photographing employees and visitors, wedding ceremonies, board of supervisor meetings, and even a yoga class. I also chose the iPhone out of respect for professional wedding photographers who might have felt that I was intruding on their work if I had shot this series with my 35mm DSLR, the same camera they use.

Even though I was a detached observer, I realized that I too was part of the daily parade that coursed through City Hall. That’s the way the city fathers wanted it. There’s room for everybody here. That’s why it’s called the People’s Palace.