Earlier this month, Janice Sinclaire reviewed the history of the San Francisco Bay Model, a mammoth physical representation of the estuary at California’s Golden Gate in which water sloshed around emulating the 24-hour tidal flow. While still open to tourists, it was dried out in 2009, but this week, we learned the model is up and running once again.
The U.S. Corps of Engineers built the hydraulic model in the 1950s to test out a proposal to rebuild San Francisco Bay to better serve commerce and national security, a plan of almost Stalinist hubris that the finished model in part shot down. The model continued to do yeoman’s work in natural sciences for years, until computer modeling reached a critical mass of sophistication and washed away the need for massive replicas.
The model, housed in a World War II-era warehouse used to make Liberty ships, has survived the last decade as an educational exhibit and free-entry tourist attraction in Sausalito, a wealthy little community a bridge north of San Francisco.
In March 2009 the water stopped sloshing around the model as the Corps spruced up the visitors center and model, renovations that they expect will keep the facility operating for the next half century. Throughout the fall and winter of this year, the taps were turned on, but engineers kept finding little leaks and drained the model again. On Wednesday, though, Ranger Thomas Downs let us know that water is again flowing through the model continuously, marking its return to operation.