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Mapping 29 Pieces of Public Art Across San Francisco

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San Francisco is a place filled with color, vibrancy, and a whole array of outdoor public art that lights up the city—sometimes literally, in the case of sculptures like Firefly and The Bay Lights. There are more pieces around town than we could possibly fit into one map, so we've curated a collection of 29 public art pieces that includes everything from very well-known and controversial pieces (hello, Cupid's Span) down to a sculpture near an Outer Richmond bus stop commemorating the former beachside amusement park Playland. The city has such an extraordinary collection of murals that they deserve their own map, so we steered clear of them here, with the exception of a Banksy drawing and the impossible-to-miss 187-foot illuminated mural Bayview Rise. Did we leave out one of your favorites? In the comments, please, after the jump!

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1. Firefly

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525 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Environmental artist Ned Kahn created Firefly, a 12-story kinetic sculpture, to mimic fireflies, which are a threatened species. The sculpture moves with the wind, triggering a series of lights at night.

2. Incomplete Metamorphosis

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441 18th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121

The title is a scientific term explaining the life cycle of insects, but the sculpture is reminiscent of artist Joyce Hsu's summer memories. She hopes children at Argonne Playground, where the sculpture is installed, will share her fascination with dragonflies.

3. Sea Change

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Artist Mark di Suvero gained fame in San Francisco with an exhibit of his sculptures on Crissy Field over the past year. This, however, is his permanent SF work, built in 1978. It's built out of steel and weighs ten tons and sits at the port where di Suvero first entered the US from China as a child.

4. Philosopher's Way

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McLaren Park
San Francisco, CA 94134
(415) 252-2590
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This 2.7-mile trail loop, by artists Susan Schwartzenberg and Peter Richards (with stonemason George Gonzalez), encourages contemplation along park trails via fourteen "musing stations" that highlight the area's history, ecology and geography.

5. Cupid's Span

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245 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94107

Love it or hate it, chances are that you know the famous Cupid's Span sculpture along the Embarcadero. It was created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen to to evoke the myth of Eros.

6. Vaillancourt Fountain

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Justin Herman Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 831-2700

This 40-foot-high fountain is made out of precast concrete square tubes. It has been controversial, with many attempts made to remove it. Bono famously spray-painted graffiti on the fountain during a 1987 U2 concert.

7. Playland Revisted

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800 La Playa Street
San Francisco, CA 94121

Playland Revisited, by Ray Beldner, recalls the former beachside amusement park with iconic symbols such as cable cars, a clown face, and this silhouette of "Laughing Sal," who used to stand at the entrance to Playland.

8. Nuotatori

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North Beach Pool
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 252-2590

Artist Vicki Saulls' sculptural mural of casts of 23 swimmers' faces is set into a section of North Beach Pool's tiled wall. All of the swimmers are from the community and all wear goggles and caps.

9. Moonrise Sculptures

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A big trio of funny-looking heads created by Ugo Rondinone stands in contrast to the glassy corporate building on site.

10. Goldsworthy Spire

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Arguello Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94129

Andy Goldsworthy's Spire rises nearly 100 feet above the Presidio, near Arguello Gate. The artist made it from 38 cypress trees that had reached the end of their life cycle.

11. Wood Line by Andy Goldsworthy

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Andy Goldsworthy's second Presidio sculpture is Wood Line, which is near Lovers' Lane, the Presidio's oldest footpath. His lines made of wood "draw the place."

12. Split Mound

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1 Zoo Rd
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 753-7080
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At the San Francisco Zoo, an interactive sculpture by Barbara McCarren and Jud Fine encourages visitors to reflect on the importance of habitat and the interdependence of species. Its many elements include a "Zoetta Stone" and a marble map of Pangaea.

13. Ghinlon/Transcope

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Octavia Blvd. between Market Street and Hayes Gree
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 252-2590

These kaleidoscopic lookouts on Octavia Boulevard by artist Po Shu Wang came with the revitalization of the area after the Central Freeway was torn down. The telescopes of the installation change a user's view of the surrounding neighborhood.

14. The Bay Lights

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San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
San Francisco, CA 94105

In 2013 the Bay Bridge lit up with a 1.8-mile-long light sculpture by Leo Villareal. There are 25,000 individual white LEDs in the work, which lights up in patterns inspired by the weather, tides, and traffic volume.

15. Where the Land Meets the Sea

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55 Music Concourse Dr
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 379-8000
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Maya Lin's first San Francisco sculpture shows the topography between Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge in stainless steel tubing. It was meant to get people to think about what's under the water in a new way.

16. Soma

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The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105

The Flaming Lotus Girls' Soma was just installed this year at Pier 14. The sculpture was originally created for Burning Man in 2009 and refers to the cell body of a neuron, not the San Francisco neighborhood.

17. Bliss Dance

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Avenue of the Palms & 5th Street
San Francisco, CA 94130

Bliss Dance, by Marco Cochrane, is a 40-foot-tall welded-steel sculpture on Treasure Island's shoreline.

18. Bird Singing in a Tree

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50 Erie Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Banksy has several pieces around San Francisco, but this one is our favorite. When it was created in 2010, it was alone on the wall, but has since been joined by other artworks.

19. Ballast

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Gene Friend Way & 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94158
(415) 252-2590

Richard Serra's Ballast is made up of two steel plates that are 50 feet high by 15 feet wide and sits on UCSF's Mission Bay campus. The plates remind Serra of growing up in the Outer Sunset.

20. Movement: The First 100 Years

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269 Drumm St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
(888) 772-6849

Known as the Korean Monument, this bronze sculpture was restored and moved in 2011. It has an identical sister sculpture located in Inchon, South Korea, and symbolizes the bond between the two countries.

21. San Francisco Fountain

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345 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 398-1234
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Ruth Asawa's beloved fountain, which features relief scenes of San Francisco, was at the center of controversy last year when a new Apple store nearly buried it. But plans were revised and the fountain will remain.

22. Large Four Piece Reclining Figure

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Civic Center, Grove and Van Ness
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 252-2590
Visit Website

Henry Moore's curved sculpture is an abstraction of the human figure. There are seven casts of it around the world. This one was purchased for $400,000 in 1980.

23. Language of the Birds

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300 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

These illuminated books appear to be taking flight over Chinatown. Words and phrases from the books are embedded in the plaza, recognizing the area's literary history. Artist Brian Goggin is probably best known for Defenestration, the flying-furniture sculpture that came down earlier this year.

24. Facsimile

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747 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 974-1699
Visit Website

The Moscone Center has an array of public art, but Facsimile is one of the most lively pieces. It's a 15-by-25-foot LED screen on the building's skin that shows live images of interior and of the city skyline (as shot from the roof), along with prerecorded images.

25. Icosaspirale

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1 Maritime Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94111

One Maritime Plaza, set in a rooftop garden, is filled with a variety of public art, including this sculpture by Charles Perry. The figure is made up of spirals that create an icosahedron shape.

26. Street Life

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Leland Ave. and Bayshore Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94134
(415) 252-2590
Visit Website

As part of the Leland Avenue Streetscape Improvement project, these overgrown parking meters created by Rebar invite viewers to think about a future where obsolete parts of automobile culture can be reused as art.

27. Valencia Street Post Pole

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Valencia st.
San Francisco, CA

Michael Arcega's street posts have Victorian-inspired crowns with "Valencia Street Public Post" carved on top. The posts are meant to house community bulletin boards in their midsections.

28. Bayview Rise

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3399 3rd Street
San Francisco, CA 94124

This mural on the side of a grain elevator and silos snags a spot on the list thanks to its prominence in the south side of the city. It is a symbol of the transformation of Bayview-Hunters Point.

29. Skygate

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1574 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94133

Skygate was built in 1985 as San Francisco's first piece of public art funded by a corporation. It is dedicated to the memory of Eric Hoffer, a longshoreman, poet, and philosopher.

1. Firefly

525 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102

Environmental artist Ned Kahn created Firefly, a 12-story kinetic sculpture, to mimic fireflies, which are a threatened species. The sculpture moves with the wind, triggering a series of lights at night.

525 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

2. Incomplete Metamorphosis

441 18th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

The title is a scientific term explaining the life cycle of insects, but the sculpture is reminiscent of artist Joyce Hsu's summer memories. She hopes children at Argonne Playground, where the sculpture is installed, will share her fascination with dragonflies.

441 18th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121

3. Sea Change

San Francisco, CA

Artist Mark di Suvero gained fame in San Francisco with an exhibit of his sculptures on Crissy Field over the past year. This, however, is his permanent SF work, built in 1978. It's built out of steel and weighs ten tons and sits at the port where di Suvero first entered the US from China as a child.

4. Philosopher's Way

McLaren Park, San Francisco, CA 94134

This 2.7-mile trail loop, by artists Susan Schwartzenberg and Peter Richards (with stonemason George Gonzalez), encourages contemplation along park trails via fourteen "musing stations" that highlight the area's history, ecology and geography.

McLaren Park
San Francisco, CA 94134

5. Cupid's Span

245 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94107

Love it or hate it, chances are that you know the famous Cupid's Span sculpture along the Embarcadero. It was created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen to to evoke the myth of Eros.

245 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94107

6. Vaillancourt Fountain

Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94102

This 40-foot-high fountain is made out of precast concrete square tubes. It has been controversial, with many attempts made to remove it. Bono famously spray-painted graffiti on the fountain during a 1987 U2 concert.

Justin Herman Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94102

7. Playland Revisted

800 La Playa Street, San Francisco, CA 94121

Playland Revisited, by Ray Beldner, recalls the former beachside amusement park with iconic symbols such as cable cars, a clown face, and this silhouette of "Laughing Sal," who used to stand at the entrance to Playland.

800 La Playa Street
San Francisco, CA 94121

8. Nuotatori

North Beach Pool, San Francisco, CA 94133

Artist Vicki Saulls' sculptural mural of casts of 23 swimmers' faces is set into a section of North Beach Pool's tiled wall. All of the swimmers are from the community and all wear goggles and caps.

North Beach Pool
San Francisco, CA 94133

9. Moonrise Sculptures

555 Mission St., California 94105

A big trio of funny-looking heads created by Ugo Rondinone stands in contrast to the glassy corporate building on site.

10. Goldsworthy Spire

Arguello Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94129

Andy Goldsworthy's Spire rises nearly 100 feet above the Presidio, near Arguello Gate. The artist made it from 38 cypress trees that had reached the end of their life cycle.

Arguello Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94129

11. Wood Line by Andy Goldsworthy

California

Andy Goldsworthy's second Presidio sculpture is Wood Line, which is near Lovers' Lane, the Presidio's oldest footpath. His lines made of wood "draw the place."

12. Split Mound

1 Zoo Rd, San Francisco, CA 94132

At the San Francisco Zoo, an interactive sculpture by Barbara McCarren and Jud Fine encourages visitors to reflect on the importance of habitat and the interdependence of species. Its many elements include a "Zoetta Stone" and a marble map of Pangaea.

1 Zoo Rd
San Francisco, CA 94132

13. Ghinlon/Transcope

Octavia Blvd. between Market Street and Hayes Gree, San Francisco, CA 94103

These kaleidoscopic lookouts on Octavia Boulevard by artist Po Shu Wang came with the revitalization of the area after the Central Freeway was torn down. The telescopes of the installation change a user's view of the surrounding neighborhood.

Octavia Blvd. between Market Street and Hayes Gree
San Francisco, CA 94103

14. The Bay Lights

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, San Francisco, CA 94105

In 2013 the Bay Bridge lit up with a 1.8-mile-long light sculpture by Leo Villareal. There are 25,000 individual white LEDs in the work, which lights up in patterns inspired by the weather, tides, and traffic volume.

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
San Francisco, CA 94105

15. Where the Land Meets the Sea

55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

Maya Lin's first San Francisco sculpture shows the topography between Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge in stainless steel tubing. It was meant to get people to think about what's under the water in a new way.

55 Music Concourse Dr
San Francisco, CA 94118

16. Soma

The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

The Flaming Lotus Girls' Soma was just installed this year at Pier 14. The sculpture was originally created for Burning Man in 2009 and refers to the cell body of a neuron, not the San Francisco neighborhood.

The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105

17. Bliss Dance

Avenue of the Palms & 5th Street, San Francisco, CA 94130

Bliss Dance, by Marco Cochrane, is a 40-foot-tall welded-steel sculpture on Treasure Island's shoreline.

Avenue of the Palms & 5th Street
San Francisco, CA 94130

18. Bird Singing in a Tree

50 Erie Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Banksy has several pieces around San Francisco, but this one is our favorite. When it was created in 2010, it was alone on the wall, but has since been joined by other artworks.

50 Erie Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

19. Ballast

Gene Friend Way & 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94158

Richard Serra's Ballast is made up of two steel plates that are 50 feet high by 15 feet wide and sits on UCSF's Mission Bay campus. The plates remind Serra of growing up in the Outer Sunset.

Gene Friend Way & 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94158

20. Movement: The First 100 Years

269 Drumm St., San Francisco, CA 94111

Known as the Korean Monument, this bronze sculpture was restored and moved in 2011. It has an identical sister sculpture located in Inchon, South Korea, and symbolizes the bond between the two countries.

269 Drumm St.
San Francisco, CA 94111

21. San Francisco Fountain

345 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Ruth Asawa's beloved fountain, which features relief scenes of San Francisco, was at the center of controversy last year when a new Apple store nearly buried it. But plans were revised and the fountain will remain.

345 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94108

22. Large Four Piece Reclining Figure

Civic Center, Grove and Van Ness, San Francisco, CA 94109

Henry Moore's curved sculpture is an abstraction of the human figure. There are seven casts of it around the world. This one was purchased for $400,000 in 1980.

Civic Center, Grove and Van Ness
San Francisco, CA 94109

23. Language of the Birds

300 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

These illuminated books appear to be taking flight over Chinatown. Words and phrases from the books are embedded in the plaza, recognizing the area's literary history. Artist Brian Goggin is probably best known for Defenestration, the flying-furniture sculpture that came down earlier this year.

300 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

24. Facsimile

747 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103

The Moscone Center has an array of public art, but Facsimile is one of the most lively pieces. It's a 15-by-25-foot LED screen on the building's skin that shows live images of interior and of the city skyline (as shot from the roof), along with prerecorded images.

747 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103

25. Icosaspirale

1 Maritime Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94111

One Maritime Plaza, set in a rooftop garden, is filled with a variety of public art, including this sculpture by Charles Perry. The figure is made up of spirals that create an icosahedron shape.

1 Maritime Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94111

26. Street Life

Leland Ave. and Bayshore Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94134

As part of the Leland Avenue Streetscape Improvement project, these overgrown parking meters created by Rebar invite viewers to think about a future where obsolete parts of automobile culture can be reused as art.

Leland Ave. and Bayshore Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94134

27. Valencia Street Post Pole

Valencia st., San Francisco, CA

Michael Arcega's street posts have Victorian-inspired crowns with "Valencia Street Public Post" carved on top. The posts are meant to house community bulletin boards in their midsections.

Valencia st.
San Francisco, CA

28. Bayview Rise

3399 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94124

This mural on the side of a grain elevator and silos snags a spot on the list thanks to its prominence in the south side of the city. It is a symbol of the transformation of Bayview-Hunters Point.

3399 3rd Street
San Francisco, CA 94124

29. Skygate

1574 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94133

Skygate was built in 1985 as San Francisco's first piece of public art funded by a corporation. It is dedicated to the memory of Eric Hoffer, a longshoreman, poet, and philosopher.

1574 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94133