August 2, 2004: Mayor
Gavin Newsom announces the return of a misunderstood icon of the City.
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!
Mister SF invites you to reconsider the Vaillancourt Fountain