Career Began
Contributions to Structural Engineering History in Northern California

“Possessed of high ideals he never wavered in defending his convictions, nor was he know to compromise on safety or good practice.” Arthur Brown, Jr., Architect, 1937

Christopher H. Snyder was born on June 12, 1866 in Fulton, Illinois. After attending public schools he went on to earn his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1890. Snyder began his career as a draftsman for the Keystone Bridge Company in Chicago for two years and then in Pittsburgh until 1893. He then moved to New York to work as a draftsman for Milliken Brothers steel building contractors from 1893 to 1898 where he rose to the position of chief draftsman from 1898 to 1901. In 1901 he became Milliken Brothers’ contracting engineer in Honolulu, Hawaii for two years before moving to the California in where he held the same position in San Francisco where Snyder would provide the design for a client’s steel building if the steel were purchased from Milliken Brothers.

In 1912, Snyder opened his private engineering design and construction practice. He formed a long and rewarding professional relationship with renowned local architects Arthur Brown Jr. and his partner John Bakewell Jr. with whom he designed some of San Francisco’s most recognizable structures including the San Francisco City Hall, Coit Tower, the Federal Building, the War Memorial Opera House and Veterans Building, PG&E Building on Market Street, 450 Sutter Street and numerous school buildings. He also designed dormitories, auditoriums, School of Education and other buildings on the Stanford University campus where the bulk of his professional records are stored.

Snyder invented and patented “flat slab-steel frame” construction for buildings and was a participating member of several professional organizations including the Structural Engineers of Northern California for which he served as President in 1934 near the end of his career and life.

Awards & Accomplishments
  • ASCE San Francisco Chapter President (1914)
  • SEAONC Charter Member (1930)
  • SEAONC President (1934)
Related Structure(s)