Philosopher's Way
McLaren's contemplative jewel



The Philosopher's Way

Back in 2007 three established environmental artists met with community members to discuss plans for a public art project in McLaren Park.  

A Philosopher's Way plaque.
Click on image to enlarge.
Photo by Alex Aldrich

Philosopher's Way is a joint project of the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission in connection with the replacement of the La Grande Water Tank located above the park reservoir, popularly known as the Blue Tower.  Some architectural enhancements for the new tank were suggested but not implemented, and funds that might have been used on the tower building were made available for public art in the park. 


At first I was skeptical. How could the artists improve on the serene beauty of  McLaren Park's trails? Well they did. The unobtrusive stone markers of Philosopher's Way feel as if they were always there. Coming upon one is like finding a friend.

The common theme expressed by the community was park users’ love of the natural areas of the park and their appreciation of the wide variety of flora and fauna to be enjoyed there.  In February 2008 the artists presented their proposed designs.  

Philosopher's Way trail guide
Click on image to download
a map of McLaren Park showing trails
for Philosopher's Way
and a history of the project

Two proposals were for stationary pieces. After community voting and approval by the Art Commission the Philosopher’s Way was the designated winner.

Designed by Susan Schwartzenberg and Peter Richards, who work as a team, the Way utilizes the existing trails throughout the park.  Walkers will encounter “musing stations,” fourteen in all.  At some there will be one or more plaques offering a quotation, a bit of park history or information about a plant or other park feature.

Walking the Philosophers Way trail is my favorite part of the day. As it guides me through McLaren’s grand wild acres, I feel tensions loosen, breathing deepen, and a peaceful merging of physical with spiritual.

Philosopher's Way, West Meadow
Philosopher's Way, West Meadow.
Click on image to enlarge.
Photo by Ed Brownson



Philosopher's Way stone
Philosopher's Way stone.
Click on image to enlarge.
Photo by Melanie Walker









At this writing The Philosopher’s Way is very near completion and is already being enjoyed by scores of people. In the near future a web site with a virtual tour may be developed.


Artist Nathaniel Paluga recently posted a short video on YouTube
celebrating the serenity and beauty of Philosopher's Way




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