Mechanics Monument

 Posted by on March 28, 2001
Mar 282001
 
Market at Bush and Battery
Mechanics Monument
Douglas Tilden
This sculpture by Douglas Tilden was one of three major art works for the Market Street Beautification Project at the turn of the 20th century. It was funded with a bequest of $25,000 from James Mervyn Donahue, the son of the late Peter Donahue, who in 1850 started the state’s first ironworks and machine shop, established the first gas company for street lighting in the city in 1852, and later initiated the first streetcar line.
Commissioned to create a monument for the Donahues, Tilden had difficulty finding an idea. Taking a walk on Mission Street, he passed an open-air machine shop and spotted a sweat-drenched, muscular man operating a “punch press” machine. Thinking of how Donahue began his empire, he envisioned an oversized version of a punch press in bronze, with five men struggling to operate it. The Donahues were skeptical when seeing his sketches, but Mayor Phelan, who had been a great patron of Tilden, insisted that the sculptor have freedom of expression to create an enduring monument that would be a tribute to all those who had toiled to make the Peter Donahue fortune – it would be a greater tribute.”
The Mechanics, was unveiled in 1901.  The immodesty of his design set tongues wagging; fortunately, the lobby to make pants for the sculpture failed.

This photograph was taken after the 1906 earthquake.

  10 Responses to “Mechanics Monument”

  1. There is a lot of power in this sculpture. It’s wonderful.

  2. It’s wonderful. I love the guys hanging off the lever in the last shot!

  3. Wow, such a powerful photograph seeing this sculpture still standing after the 1906 earthquake when everything else around it has been destroyed.

  4. […] sculptor of the Mechanics Memorial on Market Street, remained a recluse for most of his life and died in 1935. In 1987, many of Tilden’s personal […]

  5. […] Peter Donahue has even been in this blog before with his contributions to the City of San Francisco. Be Sociable, Share! TweetShare this:Print  Posted by admin at 2:06 pm  Tagged with: Foundry Square, Richard Deutsch, San Francisco, SOMA, Time Signature […]

  6. […] Peter Donahue has even been in this blog before with his contributions to the City of San Francisco.  Posted by admin at 2:06 pm  Tagged with: Foundry Square, Richard Deutsch, San Francisco, SOMA, Time Signature […]

  7. […] sculptor of the Mechanics Memorial on Market Street, remained a recluse for most of his life and died in 1935. In 1987, many of Tilden’s personal […]

  8. […] International Exposition in 1894. The Apple Cider Bronze bears some resemblance to Douglas Tilden’s Mechanics Monument located on Market street in that it bears tribute to the value of hard work. However, this purchase […]

  9. […] Art and Architecture – San Francisco […]