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Lotta's Fountain/Downtown

Pros: The oldest surviving monument in SF
Cons: Awkward location
Best For: Knowing its significance

Lotta's Fountain

In 1875, beloved American actress, Lotta Crabtree, who got her start entertaining Gold Rush miners, gave this fountain, which she commissioned in Philadelphia, to the city of San Francisco. Then on the morning of April 18th, 1906 at 5:12am, the ground began to shake. During the ensuing three days of raging fires, Lotta's Fountain became the meeting place, the spot to congregate and watch helplessly as the city burned.

Half of the city's 400,000 populace was now homeless and historic photos show citizens standing about, waiting for news, advice, solace, aid.

The fountain is cast iron, with a coat of bronze paint, has undergone renovation and relocation and upward expansion. Yearly it is the site of an early morning remembrance ceremony, the place to be when at 5:12am every April 18th, the sirens wail and homage is paid to the city and citizens who found the resilience to rebuild homes, businesses and lives.

Take a moment to imagine and reflect as cars and pedestrians go whizzing by, indifferent to the monument's significance and ignorant of its namesake's once heralded charms and talent.

What makes this a secret spot, is not where it is situated. It's secret lies in its history, which for one day per year, is celebrated. The other 364 days it goes largely unnoticed as the brown thing in the middle of a traffic island.

Noteworthy: On Christmas Eve, 1910, opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini sang here, for a crowd of close to 250,000, and it was heralded as a very emotional performance during which time the city streets were so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.

Lotta's Fountain
Corner of Market, Geary and Kearny

Lotta Crabtree