Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

San Francisco  

Sundial: 82
State/Province:  California Country:  USA
Dial Type:  Horizontal Dial Condition:  Gppf
  Latitude and Longitude: 37° 43.482' N  122° 28.122' W
Location:
  • Entrada Court, Ingleside Terraces. Entrance at Borica. It resides at the site of one of early San Francisco’s most thrilling spectator sports: the Ingleside Race Track.
 
Description:
  • Built in 1913 as a promotion for a housing development that was once a racetrack, this dial boasted (incorrectly) that at 34 feet in diameter and a gnomon style 28 feet in length, it was the largest dial in the United States. Nevertheless it gathered much publicity and newspaper articles thanks to the Urban Realty Improvement Co. The company put out a brochure "The Sundial at Ingleside Terrace with Comments on Homes" using the sundial as a lure to attract home buyers to the newly constructed residential neighborhood. On Oct 10, the same day the Panama Canal was opened, a festive gala was held at the sundial dedication attended by more than 1500 people. Photos show young girls dancing around a small pool that surrounded the gnomon. A light (visible in several early photos) dangled from the tip of the gnomon. Bronze statues of seals were originally in the pool, but by 1920 the pool was filled with concrete and the seals were gone. Today the pool area is painted green.

    From outsidelands.org website: "[The Sundial] was to become the focal point of its own park and Ingleside Terraces. Oddly, the party for this sun-dependent clock was conducted at night. The timing had various symbolic reasons. That day the Atlantic and Pacific oceans kissed for the first time at the Panama Canal. It celebrated the planned opening of San Francisco's Twin Peaks Tunnel, whose fast, reliable, and clean streetcar line was designed to serve people living away from the downtown area. And it was a romantic setting that would appeal to any young couple considering a new house... Paths lead away to four huge concrete columns and urns. Decorated with flowers and human figures, they symbolize "the four ages of man and nature's four seasons." A baby in a pram drawn by a stork, with some encouragement from other children, traversed the heart-shaped paths that represent the four points of the compass. Following the children's entertainment, fifty couples joined hands and danced the night away. It was said that the total effect was like being in a fairy land...Most of the old photographs of the sun dial show children there, and one taken in 1918 shows no houses even constructed in the background. The reflecting pool and its lights were already gone by then; however, a single large light bulb hung just below the tip. As a child I remember in 1958 being dared to reach the top of this edifice, and acted on that prompt by using the safest method possible. I straddled the beam with my hands and knees and shimmied up like a caterpillar (high risk types tend to run up). And I slid back down even quicker, for no matter how enthusiastic my older brother was about how "neat" it was to cling to the top, I knew a fall from that height could be painful.

 
General Information:
  • Owner: Ingleside Terraces Homes Association
  • Designer:
  • Builder: Joseph A. Leonard, Manager
  • Construction Date: October 10, 1913
 
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Last Revised: 2020-02-14 18:31

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