Glenn Franco Simmons | San Francisco James Lick/Pioneer Monument
10 photos

"Pioneer Monument is a granite monument supporting bronze figures and bas reliefs created by Frank Happersberger and financed by the estate of James Lick, located in Civic Center, San Francisco, Calif.," according to Wikipedia.

"The monument consists of a large female figure of Eureka, representing California on a column with four bronze reliefs representing 'Crossing the Sierra', 'Vaqueros Lassoing a Bull', 'Trapper Trading Skins with Indians,' and 'California's Progress under American Rule', as well as portrait medallions of important personages in California's past: Sir Francis Drake, John Sutter, John Fremont, Father Junipero Serra, and the monument's benefactor, James Lick.

"There are also four piers surrounding the base of the column, supporting sculptures. Two are female figures allegorically representing Commerce and Plenty, and two are groupings of three figures each. One of these is titled 'Early Days' and contains a missionary, a Native American, and a vaquero. The other is titled 'In '49', commemorating the California Gold Rush, containing three gold miners."

The original impetus behind the monument was James Lick's will. Lick (1796-1876) was "an American carpenter, piano builder, land baron, and patron of the sciences," according to Wikipedia. "At the time of his death, he was the wealthiest man in California, and left the majority of his estate to social and scientific causes." The Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton overlooking the Santa Clara Valley was the first mountain-top observatory in the world.

When Lick died, he left an estate with instructions for trustees, including the 13th clause that said: "And in further trust to erect, under the supervision of said parties of the second part, and their successors, at the City Hall, in the City and County of San Francisco, a group of bronze statuary, well worth one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), which should represent by appropriate designs and figures the history of California: First, from the early settlement of the missions to the acquisition of California by the United States; second, from such acquisition by the United States to the time when agriculture became the leading interest of the State; third, from the last-named period to the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-four."

"In September 1890, the Trustees selected the a model by sculptor Frank Happersberger from a field of four artist submissions," according to Wikipedia. "Ground was broken in May 1894 at San Francisco City Hall. The cornerstone of the monument was laid and statuary dedicated on Monday, Sept. 10, 1894 by the Lick Trustees, Society of California Pioneers and Native Sons of the Golden West at Marshall Square, near the intersection of Hyde and Grove, in front of the Old City Hall (which was later destroyed by the earthquake of 1906).

"In 1991, a plan was introduced to move the statue to make way for a new public library. At the time, the statue was surrounded by a parking lot, seedy pornographic theaters and fast-food restaurants along Market Street. This plan generated controversy between preservationists, who wanted the statue to remain in place to mark the site of Old City Hall, and Native American protesters who wanted the statue removed entirely. The protestors criticized the sculpture for depicting American Indians as subservient.

"In 1991, 20 heavy-duty steel carrying beams were used to transport the statue one block and place it in the middle of Fulton Street, where it currently stands between the old and new libraries and across a park from the new City Hall. A brass plaque was added to the statue in 1996 to explain the role of native Americans in California."

On the day I photographed it, there were people sleeping around it, so getting good photos was difficult. Also a word of warning: In the past four years, San Francisco has become a hotbed for strong-arm robberies. Some people have been assaulted. Others have had their cars broken into. Be observant of your surroundings while in San Francisco and be very cautious.
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Categories & Keywords
Category:Architecture and Structures
Subcategory:Places of Interest
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Keywords:Civic Center, Glenn Franco Simmons, James Lick, Pioneer Monument, San Francisco