Saturday, January 03, 2009

More St James Park: McKinley and a Rusty Fountain

The statue of William McKinley is on the First Street side of St James park and it's supposed to mark the exact spot where he made a speech in 1901. McKinley is perched on top of a nice pile of stone blocks and symbols. He's holding his top hat in one hand and the other is outstretched as if he's about to give someone a friendly shake. If you look up at him, his most distinctive features are his huge eyebrows. They look like a pair of small birds about to take flight.

All in all, it's a nice monument, well suited to its location across from the old courthouse.

Towards the center of the park, near Second Street and the Light Rail stop, is something altogether different. Long ago the park wasn't split down the middle at that point, and the park's centerpiece was large circular fountain. Apparently it was replaced in the mid 1950s with the cast iron replica we have today. From the looks of it, it hasn't been painted or protected since then. It has become a rust colossus, or a tribute to lockjaw.

This fountain has it all. A ring of iron fishes in a pool poised for water battle with the oxidizing lions in the bowl above them. A column made of more fishes and rusty lumps that once were frogs,  and leafy wreaths around everything, bubbling iron oxide. The name of the company that built the fountain is still legible near the base and to my surprise, they're still in the same business. Perhaps San Jose should commission a new one, made from something that doesn't decay. Like silicon.

Here are a few more of the photos I made that day. You'll also find them on