30 April, 2010

Forgotten Fountain

I've walked by this rather clumsy looking fountain many times over the years. It's just below Ghirardelli Square across from Aquatic Park. This time I stopped to read the information on a small plaque next to the fountain. A bell went off and I remembered coming across a photo of a similar object in the Mission District years ago. At the time I wondered what had happened to it. As it was no longer in its original location, I figured it had been scrapped as a bit of "useless" old street furniture.
Turns out that the Aquatic Park fountain is the SAME ONE featured in the old picture. How it made its way here is probably lost to history. It's known as the Mariani Fountain and was originally located in front of Mr. Mariani's hardware store at 23rd and Florida in the Mission. The original caption on the 1957 photo states,
"Not for sale is this original 82 year-old Mission fountain, owned by Walter A. Mariani, long-time hardware merchant. The City wants it for a bridle path on Sunset Blvd. Mrs. Amanda Rivera poses beside the relic."
I guess The City eventually got its fountain and, although it didn't end up on a bridle path (!) on Sunset Blvd, it's a bit forlorn in its present location. It's filled with some mucky water and a cigarette butt or two. I really like how it has a basin for horses, pooches (or other close-to-the-ground creatures) and humans. I would hazard a guess that few horses drink from Mr. Mariani's fountain, let alone humans. Yet, it's still here after 135 years and that's definitely something.

1 comment:

  1. The fountain was relocated to Aquatic Park as part of a 1960s attempt to redevelop the the-vacant lot surrounding the Hyde Street cable car turntable into a "Victorian Park" or "Gas Light Park." It was part of former Maritime Museum director Karl Kortum's vision for the area as a recreation of some supposed 1890's "bel epoch" of San Francisco history complete with gas lights, wrought iron railings and benches, and elaborate planter beds. The fountain was supposed to give the dead-end of Jefferson Street a horsey-type ambience. Not sure if it ever had water running through it, though.

    As a side note, there's a twin fountain on Angel Island at the Ayala Cove picnic grounds. There may be a link since both Victorian Park and Angel Island were being renovated by the State Park system at the same time.