The One about the Wave Organ in San Francisco

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Not far from the Golden Gate Yacht Club is the Wave Organ, an acoustic sculpture constructed on the shore of San Francisco Bay in May 1986 by the Exploratorium.

Constructed utilizing stone pieces salvaged from the demolition of the Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco, Exploratorium artist in residence Peter Richards (conceived and designed the organ) and sculptor/mason George Gonzales are credited for the work.

The area features 25 PVC organ pipes dedicated to the late Exploratorium founding director Frank Oppenheimer, Oppenheimer was responsible for the fundraising efforts for the Wave Organ.

The pipes interacts with the waves from the bay and if people put their ears on the end of the pipes, they can hear the effects of the waves (depending on the level of the tide).

It was a bit of a bummer to see this work have graffiti in certain locations of the Wave Organ.  And I’m not sure if the city of San Francisco or the Exploratorium maintains it by removing the graffiti.  And people have left their litter underneath some areas, which was also not cool!

If I have any advice for anyone who is interested in visiting the area, you may want to bring good walking shoes as it may be a far walk depending where you are coming from (I walked from the Fort Mason Center and I thought it was close but took a little over an hour just to walk there).

Also, remember that it can get windy and cold, so prepare for that as well.

But the Wave Organ is definitely an interesting area to visit and you can get good photos, especially during the weekend when the yachts and boats are out, around the location.

And for those who love workouts, especially from Fort Mason Center or the parks, the fact that you ran/walked that far is quite a bit of an accomplishment. 🙂



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Dennis A. Amith