The Golden Fire Hydrant San Francisco

Image by Kathleen Messmer

The Golden Fire Hydrant – Small but mighty

Imagine it’s April 18, 1906. There are virtually no conveniences like today. Most communications are community-based. San Francisco is rocked by an earthquake causing the city to become engulfed in flames. But that isn’t the least of your worries. There’s virtually no water in a city surrounded by it.

Fast forward to today… ninety percent of the damage to the city in 1906 was due to fires caused by ruptured gas lines and broken water mains. The Mission Dolores Park is literally across the street from the one thing that saved the Mission District from total destruction; the Golden Fire Hydrant.  

Sitting on the corner of Church and 20th Streets, it was the sole operating hydrant in the area. All others were bone dry and it took neighborhood residents, exhausted firefighters, and fire engines to get enough water to fight the massive fires and save the neighborhood.

In spite of the fact that a fire hydrant is not a sentient entity, it is honored every April 18th, at 5:21 am, with a fresh coat of gold paint for accomplishing that colossal task. And it stands proudly exhibiting its very golden finish.

I’ve lived in the Bay Area for over 30 years and never heard of this small, but mighty, fire hydrant. Amazing what you can find when you wander about the place you live with eyes wide open. It gives a very literal meaning to “stop and smell the roses”…er…fire hydrants.

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Details about this spot



3899 20th Street, San Francisco

Opening Times

24 hours daily


Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)