New and Venerable Institutions: Vaillancourt Fountain

August 2, 2004: After years of barrenness due to water and energy conservation, the Vaillancourt Fountain springs to life thanks to a ploy by Supervisor Aaron Peskin and support from Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The Vaillancourt Fountain at Justin Herman Plaza and Four Embarcadero Center has been widely reviled since it was built in 1971 by French-Canadian sculptor Francois Vaillancourt. The late Herb Caen said it looked like a pile of poop while others are content to call it a mere eyesore. So harsh was public criticism that its embittered creator was ridiculed out of town. Built on land cleared for the Embarcadero Freeway and BART, the fountain is built on the site of former hotels and bars in an area once well populated by seamen. When it's working, the fountain releases thousands of gallons from its apertures. Large square stepping stones allow a walk through the cluster of cubic plumbing, enveloping the visitor in its roaring presence. An upper catwalk is equally fun. Clearly Mister SF endorses the Vaillancourt Fountain in spite of its industrial design. We can't put Corinthian columns on everything!

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Detail VII: Mister SF invites you to reconsider the Vaillancourt

Vaillancourt Fountain Returns!
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