Invisible City Audio Tours: The Armada of Golden Dreams
TOUR ROUTE: Embarcadero BART Station on a circular route through several locations in the Financial District. San Francisco, California. Google Map Route.
Producer: Tavia Stewart-Streit
Director: LJ Moore
Composer: Jesse Solomon Clark
Visual Art Curator: Clare Haggarty
Map artist: George Pfau
Map designer: Sarah Ciston
Sound design: Michael Maurillo
Sound development: Michael Maurillo and Jeremiah Moore
Historial text read by: LJ Moore and Andrew R.Touhy
Visual artists: Joshua Churchill, Rebecca Ebeling
The Armada of Golden Dreams is made possible by Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure grant.
James Marshall’s discovery of gold at Coloma in 1848 set in motion a world-wide migration of fortune-seekers to the gold fields of California. In the first year of the gold rush, over 62,000 of those immigrants came by ship, landing in San Francisco and abandoning their vessels as fast as their legs could carry them.
By 1850, the bay held nearly 600 abandoned brigs, barks, ships and whalers, left to rot by the starry-eyed argonauts who had crowded aboard to reach their dreams. The ever-resourceful denizens of a flea-infested, fire-prone city made use of those ships, turning them into warehouses, saloons, bordellos, hotels and shanghai dens: over time, many of those vessels became landlocked, standing side-by-side with brick and mortar buildings, until conflagration or new construction erased their above-ground traces.
For most of the Gold Rush fleet, San Francisco was not only their last voyage, but their final mooring, as over 50 of those vessels still lie beneath the skyscrapers, restaurants, bars and plazas of downtown San Francisco, restless in the darkness.
A crew of bay area writers, musicians and artists have weaved yarns, strummed sea shanties and placed their ear trumpets to the pavement, summoning up the ghosts of Shadowless Sam and Mizzentop Joe, so that you too can experience the voices and visions of the Armada of Golden Dreams.
Media: Hand-collected bones (hawk, skunk, mole, vole, shrew, mouse, rat, lizard, small bird); scavenged watch parts, cemetery glass, found ephemera