Art Nerd City Guides: New York · Los Angeles

The Hyatt on Union Square by Ruth Asawa

Ruth Asawa Fountain

Hidden behind the Levi’s store on an oddly shaped plaza that consists mostly of stairs sits Hyatt on Union Square by Ruth Asawa.  Completed in 1973, this fountain was a serious group effort.  Approximately 250 people – both school students and friends of Asawa’s – assisted in the creation of the fountain.

The fountain is an incredibly detailed, stylized relief.  Showing city landmarks, residents and transit options, the Hyatt on Union Square is essentially a beautiful map of the San Francisco.

Ruth Asawa Fountain Close Up

Hyatt on Union Square recently made news when Apple proposed removing the fountain in their plans for a new store replacing Levi’s.  The outcry from the San Francisco artistic community was swift, and the city is now working with Apple to find a solution to keep Asawa’s sculptural fountain in place.  Given it’s unique shaped and the fact that it was designed specifically for that plaza, the idea of moving Hyatt on Union Square to a new home is pretty ridiculous.

The upside of San Francisco vs Apple is that there has been a renewed interest in Ruth Asawa and her artistic contributions to the Bay Area.  So next time you’re stocking up on shopping bags at Union Square, take a minute to appreciate her work.

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