At first I was going to use the Vaillancourt Fountain as my “Q” since it has also been called “Quebec libre!” but then I found Queen Wilhelmina’s Tulip Garden and I was free to use the fountain in it’s natural letter.
Located across the street from the Ferry Building in the Embarcadero Plaza, this huge concrete sculpture has been the subject of some controversy. There were several attempts to dismantle it over the years because people think it is too stark, some even calling it “idiotic rubble,” and “a jumble of nothing.” Interestingly, U2 held a free concert there in 1987 and Bono spray painted graffiti on it, “Rock and Roll stops the traffic.” He was cited for malicious mischief, although the artist himself flew from Canada to San Francisco to praise Bono and spray painted his own message, “Stop the Madness.”
The water has been turned off a few times over the years because of draught conditions among other things. In 2017 it was turned back on. It is designed to pump 30,000 gallons of water a minute! The water has “Blue Lagoon” dye in it to prevent algae build up. You can, but I didn’t, walk behind it. When I first started taking the pictures, the fountain was not active. All of a sudden I heard a “whoosh” and the water started pouring out. Here is a short video. It is all very impressive, pretty or not.
Near the fountain is the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Monument, which is a series of panels 40 feet long and 8 feet high, dedicated in 2008. It is to honor the volunteers in the Spanish Civil War and features quotes from the volunteers and people like Ernest Hemingway.
It stands to reason that if there are hills, there must be valleys and San Francisco has those too. Cole Valley is the smallest neighborhood in the city and was at one time home to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Eureka Valley (which includes the Castro), Hayes Valley (between Alamo Square and the Civic Center), and Noe Valley where the “urban professionals” live. The valley I am most familiar with though is Visitacion Valley for that’s where my family lived when I was born.
At that time there was a nursery there where my father worked, Geneva and Sunnydale Nursery. The picture below shows my dad on the far right, another worker next to him and then my grandmother, grandfather and older sister, JoAnne. When I was about a year and a half we moved to San Bruno and a few years later the nursery was sold and new housing was built. The Sunnydale Projects were low income housing and turned the area into one of the most crime ridden parts of the city. Fortunately, things are better in the area now after the two tall Geneva Towers were demolished and the crackdown on drugs cleaned the area up.
I drove by the house where the family lived on Schwerin Street. I’m sure it doesn’t look the same after 60+ years but at least it is still there! The school I would have attended is right across the street and the church is a few blocks away.
You can see the Cow Palace in the right corner of the picture of the Valley as it used to be. The Cow Palace has been used for many different things over the years. The Warriors basketball team played there for a while, Roller Derby and wrestling matches have been held there as well. It has seen livestock shows (hence the name Cow Palace) and gun shows as well as ice skating. The Sharks started out there before their stadium in San Jose was built.
The last time we went was to see the circus.
The site was also host to another circus, the Republican National Convention, once when Ronald Reagan was nominated and once when Barry Goldwater was nominated.
What I really missed out on was the concerts! The Beatles were there in ’64 and ’65, the Rolling Stones in ’66 and a host of others like Van Halen, the Cars, Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac and Prince until Metallica played there last in 2008. To connect the dots, U2 did a performance there the night before the free concert they gave at the Vaillancourt Fountain in 1987.
Okay, we are really in the home stretch now. Four more letters to go. Hope you have been having fun!