Mayor Ed Lee celebrated Valentine’s Day this week at City Hall, presenting a key to the city to singer Tony Bennett to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his legendary song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
City Hall rotunda was decorated with pink balloons and red roses. Guests filled the seats under the dome and gathered at the balcony rails. Dignitaries were ushered to reserved seating at the foot of the grand staircase.
The song was performed by the San Francisco Girls and Boys Choruses along with Ruth Asawa School of the Arts choir and later by the San Francisco Gay Mens’ Chorus.
Fifty years after it first came out, “I left My Heart in San Francisco,” has become an institution, especially at the Giants’ ballpark. A permanent place of honor has been set aside at AT&T Park – Suite Number 1 will be The Tony Bennett Suite.
Lee praised Bennett for his efforts to make arts education accessible to youth through the Frank Sinatra Foundation. Lee declared Tuesday “Tony Bennett Day in San Francisco,” as he presented him the key to the city.
Bennett, who did not sing, said he first learned about the song when he was in Little Rock, Arkansas, and tested it out at a local bar. The bartender told him, “If you record that song, I’m gonna be the first customer.”
Bennett was clearly touched by the young choristers who performed the song. “I’ve never seen anything in my life as beautiful as these young people,” he said.