San Francisco in a day: Hyatt Fountain

During World War II, Japanese-American people all down the West Coast were interned. In Portland, 3500 were rounded up in 1942, many from what now is now called China Town and housed in the Expo Center. This was the staging place before they were to be shipped to long term camps in Idaho, Wyoming and other places. The same happened in San Francisco. One of those was Ruth Asawa when she was 16 years of age. It would have made many people bitter, but for Ruth it was the first step on her journey. While housed in horse stables, she studied drawing and painting with other interned artists. With a Quaker scholarship she studied to be an art teacher and while still facing discrimination quickly became an acclaimed artist.

In 1970 she was commissioned to build a fountain for Hyatt and that is the subject of this blog. It is a cast bronze cylinder 13’ 3” in diameter and 7’ high and was completed in 1972. It is one way to see all of San Francisco in a day.

It was first made of baker’s clay before being cast in bronze. 250 friends and school children helped bringing it to life. It consists of 41 individual bronze plaques each 26 x 32 inches. Everything to the south of Union square is left of the HH (representing the Hyatt), north is right. The ocean is the top and the bay is the bottom.

Interestingly, this panel contains another of her fountains at Ghiradelli Square.

I trust that this small scene was not created by the school children!

Because of this and other fountains that she created in San Francisco, she is sometimes referred to as the fountain lady.

Brought to you by Brian Bailey

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One thought on “San Francisco in a day: Hyatt Fountain

  • June 21, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Thanks Brian! I’ve walked by this fountain a dozen or so times without having a clue what it was.


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