After visiting the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California last summer and learning all about sundials, we were intrigued to learn that there is a secret sundial in San Francisco.
The Ingleside Sundial, also called the Urbano Sundial, is a giant 28 foot tall, 33 foot wide sundial hidden in the center of a sleepy San Francisco residential neighborhood.
This past weekend, we drove over to the super cute Ingleside Terraces neighborhood in search of the hidden sundial, which sits in the center of Entrada Court in a small, circular park appropriately named Sundial Park.
Sundial Park is a grassy circle surrounding the Ingleside Sundial that is divided by concrete pathways in four sections:
- Each section features a column in one of the four Greco Roman architecture styles—Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Tuscan.
- Topping each column are basins depicting the four seasons, the four periods of day, and the four stages of man.
The Ingleside Terraces Sundial, synchronized with the summer solstice, was built in 1912 and dedicated in 1913 by the Urban Realty Improvement Company as a marketing ploy to help attract modern, upper-income buyers to their new Ingleside Terraces residential development. At the time, it was the largest sundial in the world, but now it isn’t even the largest sundial in San Francisco. That honor now goes to the Hunters Point Sundial.
Today it is a little worn and slightly beat up, but beautiful at the same time. Depending on the time of day you visit, you may see local children at the park climbing on the sundial and sliding down its gnomon. But rest assured that you wont find crowds or many tourists here as the sundial isn’t visible from any of the surrounding main roads.
The Historic Ingleside Racetrack
In 1895, the Pacific Coast Jockey Club opened the Ingleside Racetrack off Ocean Road (now Ocean Avenue). The Ingleside Racetrack featured an elegant clubhouse, large viewing stands, and some of the best stables in the industry. It was highly anticipated and the Southern Pacific Railroad built a rail line directly to the front of the racetrack to accommodate the approximate ten thousand people who came to celebrate opening day.
Also held at the Ingleside Racetrack were automobile races, but business wasn’t thriving and eventually the California Jockey Club assumed control of the racetrack, intent on reviving the horse races. Unfortunately the track shut down at the end of 1905.
After the 1906 Earthquake ravaged San Francisco, the Ingleside Racetrack was used as a refugee camp and temporary facility for the Laguna Honda Hospital. Then in 1910, Urban Realty Development Company purchased the abandoned racetrack and set to work transforming it into a new residential neighborhood.
Urbano Drive actually follows the original racetrack loop.
Know Before You Go
- The Ingleside Sundial and Sundial Park is located on Entrada Court in the Ingleside Terraces neighborhood of San Francisco, California.
- To reach the sundial, from Ocean Avenue, turn south onto Victoria Street for one block, turn right on Urbano Drive, turn left on Borica Street, and turn right on Entrada Court.
- Sundial Park was designed by Joseph A. Leonard and dedicated on October 10, 1913.
- The sundial’s vertical pointer or gnomon is 28 feet tall and the Sundial face is 33 feet in diameter. It is synchronized to the summer solstice in June.
- The Ingleside Sundial sits in the center of the Ingleside Terraces neighborhood, so please respectful of the residents and homes.