A to Z 2021 – V is for Vaillancourt Fountain and Valleys

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!

About scr4pl80

I'm a 60-ish, married, mom to 3, creative soul looking to make the world a better place one smile at a time.
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24 Responses to A to Z 2021 – V is for Vaillancourt Fountain and Valleys

  1. Hey J… You made me miss the circus too…it’s been way to long a time since I’ve seen it. The short video of the Vaillancourt Fountain made me want to take a swim….that is so awesome. Does it every get a different color like at Christmas time…red dye or green for the season?

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  2. Pingback: A to Z 2021 – Reflection | Janet's Smiles

  3. Tamara says:

    So educational and entertaining to read your posts! I didn’t know any of the destinations you were talking about. My favorite is Vaillancourt Fountain, love the video, too!

    I’m sad the alphabet is coming to an end. I’ll miss my daily “trips” to SF!


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  4. Beautiful pictures and interesting information. It has been ages since I last went to a circus show. The fountain looks quite artistic in its own way actually .


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  5. You really have so much there to see… loved the video of the blue lagoon water flowing out

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  6. Janet,

    Thanks for the views. The artwork on display isn’t something I’d flock to see but I appreciate the talent all the same. The dedication plaques have to be interesting read. San Francisco is an interesting place.

    Villain Looney Tunes A-Z Art Sketch

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  7. It is fun to go back and visit places from our past. I spent most of my twenties living in Boston. It’s where I met my husband. A few years ago when we were in the area, he drove us around to see all his old apartments and even remembered how to get to my previous apartment. It was fun to see them all and remember those times. Weekends In Maine


  8. J-Dub says:

    I really enjoy this. Funny that we had a Cow Palace here but it was an ice cream parlor. I much prefer a venue for the circus or concerts.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Iain Kelly says:

    Love the fountain – and the story about Bono and the artist!


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    • scr4pl80 says:

      It was pretty funny when I was reading it. The artist said, “I want to shake his hand!” The artist felt that the sculpture was to be an interactive one. It just so happens that at that time the city was in the process of campaigning against graffiti that was being done all over and were trying to promote “cleaning up” the area. LOL.

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  10. I actually love that first sculpture. It caught my eye immediately. That and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which I am familiar with. My letter V post also mentions Barry Goldwater — and Melvin Belli’s attempt to keep him from running. You’re right, a circus of a different kind. https://mollyscanopy.com/2021/04/various-other-teen-interests-from-rod-serling-to-rfk/#comments

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    • scr4pl80 says:

      I almost didn’t say that because you know politics but I couldn’t help myself. LOL. Off to read yours. I see Rod Serling in the title. I remember the Twilight Zone!


  11. LOL – yes, I guess there’s no way around it – where there are hills, they will be valleys. I really loved seeing the nursery photo!

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  12. San Francisco used to be my go-to vacation. So much there has changed that. This is a wonderful memory.

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  13. gigglingfattie says:

    YAY CANADA🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦

    Liked by 1 person

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