San Francisco  

Sundial: 20
State/Province:  California Country:  USA
Dial Type:  Vertical Dial Condition:  Good
  Latitude and Longitude: 37° 46.286' N  122° 28.069' W
  • The sundial is in the Golden Gate Park at the Music Concourse between Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive and the De Young Museum. The sundial is roughly 80 feet south of the east corner of the De Young Museum.
  • Known as the "Navigators' Dial", this sundial is dedicated to three early explorers of the California coast. The dial itself is a sliced bronze globe of the earth sitting on the back of a tortoise. Overall, the globe hemisphere is about 2 1/2 feet in diameter, showing the world in relief centered on California. The flat face of the hemisphere is a beautiful vertical reclining dial. The dial sits atop a cylindrical stone column.

    From ‘Looking Back’ in the Richmond Review/Sunset Beacon by Kinen Carvala, Oct 4, 2022: "Atop the column is a bronze turtle representing the slowness of the passage of time. Atop of the turtle’s back is a vertical bronze hemisphere, with a map of the Americas on the curved side. The flat side of the hemisphere has inscribed portraits of the three explorers above a sundial with the Latin inscription “horam sol nolente nego,” translated by the Colonial Dames as “if the sun is unwilling I don’t tell the time.” After the president of the Dames, Mrs. Selden S. Wright, presented the dial to the City, the vice president of the Dames, Mrs. C. Elwood Brown, said: “In the land of sunshine, fruit and flowers, what is so appropriate as a clock of the sun?” 

    "The monument was draped with American and Spanish flags until the Oct. 12, 1907, unveiling, which concluded with “Portuguese, Spanish, British and American national hymns” performed by the Presidio’s garrison band, according to the San Francisco Call newspaper. (Cabrillo’s nationality has been variously claimed as Portuguese or Spanish.)"

    "The monument cost $1,500, according to The Monumental News in 1908, and was designed by Melvin Earl Cummings (1876-1930), who also sculpted other Golden Gate Park monuments, including statues dedicated to Robert Burns, John McLaren and the Doughboy soldiers. The Monumental News mentions a carved garland at the top of the column and four stone slabs at the base below the column that are no longer present."

    "In 1995, the Dames funded a restoration of the sundial, which was also put in storage while the de Young Museum temporarily closed for renovations from 2000 to 2005. A 2007 centennial ceremony for the sundial included British, Spanish and Portuguese consuls general, according to the Dames website."

    "The sun’s shadow is cast on the sundial face and shows the time, based on how the sun moves. But sundials and our clocks don’t exactly agree on what time they display. Pacific Standard Time isn’t based on solar time in San Francisco but is instead based on the meridian at 120 degrees west, which forms the north-south California-Nevada border between Oregon and Lake Tahoe. Solar noon at the meridian happens almost 10 minutes before solar noon in San Francisco. Other factors can cause solar time to run several minutes ahead of or several minutes behind clock time depending on the time of year because of changes in how the sun moves across the sky, according to the Royal Museums Greenwich." Photos by Michael Durand.

    Fortún Ximénez de Bertandoña (also known as “Fortuno Jiminiez”) was the pilot, not the captain, on the ship Concepción, one of various ships dispatched by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés as part of his country’s undertaking “to discover lands and islands along the Pacific coast,” as described by history professor Robert Ryal Miller. At the end of October 1533, the Concepción and another flagship left the port of Acapulco on Mexico’s southern shore with 44 men combined, sailing out into the Pacific. The Concepción captain commanded both ships initially, but the other flagship soon became separated from Concepción. Ximénez and his brother organized a successful mutiny on Concepción against the captain. Under Ximénez, the Concepción encountered what would be later called La Paz in southern Baja California, though Ximénez thought he discovered an island. Ximénez led about 20 men to scout the land, leaving a few men on the Concepción. Only one scout returned to the ship, reporting that Ximénez and the others were killed by natives.

General Information:Inscription:
  • Owner: City of San Francisco
  • Inscribed "Horam Sole Nolente Nego"
  • Designer: Melvin Earl Cummings
  • Builder:
  • Construction Date: Oct. 12, 1907

Last Revised: 2022-11-27 17:24