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Wave Organ.

Wave Organ

Field review by the editors.

San Francisco, California

If you want an unusual escape from the hubbub at San Francisco's pier attractions, head out to the mysterious Wave Organ. It's past the St. Francis Yacht Club, at the end of a jetty.

Usually no one is out there, and the jetty offers a pleasant view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and that low part of the city prone to catch on fire after earthquakes. The jetty was constructed from tombstone and monument fragments from a demolished 19th century cemetery. The Wave Organ incorporates some of this ornate -- and creepy, if you think about it -- stonework into its design.

Listening tubes at the Wave Organ.

The Wave Organ is an acoustic sculpture created in 1986 by artist Peter Richards, with the help of stone mason George Gonzales. The two crafted this tiered, aural temple from PVC pipe, cement tubes, gravestones, and other found bricks and blocks. It was built to merge into the bay so that seawater from San Francisco Bay would rush in, or wave action would lap at the lower ends of the pipes, creating low rumblings, wheezings, and other musical resonations.

Wave Organ.

Some tipsters have complained that the Wave Organ of today is mute. But Richards still comes out to maintain his sculpture, so maybe it's Global Warming or something that's messing with the music...

The trick is to arrive at high tide, sit down, and shut up. Visitors are encouraged to position themselves on the many stone slabs with an ear propped against any of the dozens of listening tubes.

If all else fails, you can complain into a tube: "Hello dead people! CAN YOU HEAR ME?"

Wave Organ

Yacht Rd, San Francisco, CA
Off of Marina Blvd, just before you get on Highway 1 to Sausalito. Go into the far entrance of the Marina where there's a big stone lighthouse. Walk along the landbridge and pass the St. Francis Yacht Club. Follow the jetty all the way to the end -- it's on the bay side.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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