Places: The San Francisco Wave Organ

Built in 1986 by the San Francisco Exploratorium, the Wave Organ sits on a tiny spit of land on the north end of San Francisco, right across from Alcatraz. As a functional sculpture, listeners are afforded a beautiful panoramic view of the Bay while soaking in the “soundtrack” of the tides and waters.

The Wave Organ was conceived and designed by Exploratorium artist-in-residence Peter Mason, along with sculptor and mason George Gonzalez. It consists of a series of interconnected PVC pipes that run from under the tide-line and up into a stone seating area, the latter of which was salvaged from the demolition of San Francisco’s Laurel Hill Cemetery. Depending upon the state of the tides, listeners are played a varying degree of gurgles, hisses, burps, rumbles, and other wave noises.

You can visit any time, though both extreme high tide and low tide are when the sculpture is most active.