$12 Million Fountains Restored for Park's 110th Birthday

By Matt Baume
|  Thursday, Sep 9, 2010  |  Updated 12:00 PM PDT
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$12 Million Fountains Restored for Park's 110th Birthday

California Academy of Sciences

An aerial photograph illustrates architect Renzo Piano's vision of lifting up a piece of Golden Gate Park and sliding a museum underneath. Photo by Tim Griffith.

What do you get someone for their 110th birthday? A facelift might be a good place to start.

It's been a century and a decade since the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park opened, and a historic fountain has been restored just in time for the festivities. After five years of chain-link fences, construction debris, and disappointed tourists, the concourse is finally presentable again.

It wasn't easy. Construction delays pushed the restoration of the fountains back by several months. Complications included the excavation of high-pressure water lines, and also keeping up with the decaying band shell, which kept dropping bits and pieces.

Originally, development of the area began in 1894 for the California Midwinter International Exposition, which drew 1.3 million visitors over the course of five months. Not much remains from that event, aside from the Japanese Tea Garden, as well as the name of the event's organizer: Michael de Young.

A museum that would eventually bear his name was erected in 1895, then nearly collapsed during the 1989 quake. The new structure bears more resemblance to an air traffic control tower than the original palace.

The birthday festivities start bright and early this Friday at 9:30am, with "brief remarks" and a fountain ceremony. We hope it involves some splashing.

Matt Baume considers 9:30 a.m. to be the middle of the night.

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