|Home -> John J. Newbegin -> The City of Domes -> Chapter 17|
Watching the Lights Change
"There probably never was an Exposition in a more magnificent setting," said the architect. "The stretch from here to the Golden Gate makes one of the most splendid bits of scenery in the whole world. It was a good idea on the part of the Exposition people to build the little railway here so that visitors should get a glimpse of all the beauty. But, ideally, the view ought to be seen from a height. The curve from here to the Cliff House makes our foreign visitors gasp. It also makes them wonder why our boasting over San Francisco doesn't include some of the things we have the best excuse to boast about."
We stopped at one of the open-air restaurants, where we could eat and watch the fading light at the same time. Then we went to the lagoon, which the architect declared to be particularly interesting at this time of day.
The rotunda and the colonnade began to take on a deeper mystery. Across the surface of the water ran a faint ripple. In the background, over the Golden Gate, the sky was turning to flame. Delicate, gray cobwebs seemed to float in the air like veils, dusk and fog intermingled.
The light grew dim as we sauntered along the colonnade of the Palace. Through the columns we could see the Tower of Jewels, suddenly illuminated from inside, all in red, obscuring the sculptured figures and giving the lines greater unity and reach.
In the red glow the Italian towers fairly leaped into the air. "It's curious how the light makes them taller," said the architect.
Now the grounds were twinkling with a multitude of bulbs.
Presently the red light in the tower softened into white. Two of the Italian towers grew paler, the other two retaining their brilliancy. Ryan was putting on his colors like a painter, one over another.
We made our way back to the Marina, where the scintillators were soon to blaze. Before we arrived they informed us of their presence by the great feathered fan, of many colors, that rose into the sky.
"There was some opposition to the decorating of the Tower with jewels. The architects with conservative ideas very naturally felt that architecture which depended on its lines for beauty didn't need that kind of ornament. But Ryan has unquestionably justified himself. The feature has been talked about throughout the country more than any other. See how the light falls on the tower like a great shimmering robe. It gains by the contrast it makes with the subdued lighting beneath."
The group on the Column of Progress stood out against the sky.
The doorways were taking on the color of gold, becoming even more beautiful than they had been by day.
"What Ryan tried hardest to get," said the architect, "was evenness of lighting. He wanted to bring out clearly the details of the architecture and he succeeded."