A Look Back in History: Pulgas Temple Anniversary

​On October 28, 1934 twenty thousand excited people gathered at Pulgas water temple to watch as the first water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains made its way 160 miles through the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct to the Bay Area.

Pulgas Temple.

Designed by famed architect William G. Merchant in the Beaux Arts style, the San Francisco Water Department built Pulgas water temple at the terminus of the aqueduct to commemorate completion of the Hetch Hetchy water system. The temples’ fluted columns and ornate style were a nod to the great Greek and Roman engineers whose methods influenced the design of the water system. The frieze above the columns, a quote from the bible, reads: “I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people.”

Board of Public Works, Hetch Hetchy, Pulgas Water Temple completion celebration.

Attended by Mayor Angelo Joseph Rossi and the Secretary of the Interior, Harold L. Ickes, the dedication ceremony, with its music and festivities, was described the following day in the SF Examiner:

“Over the spillway came a slim stream, the width of the broad flume. It was transparent and limpid – as clear as crystal. It curled in foaming effervescence and hurried on toward the water temple…A cry that shivered to the oak rimmed hills arose. Cups, dippers, folded programs were plunged into the silvery flood… Hetch Hetchy was a reality. A magnificent vision of a generation ago had come true.”

Mayor Angelo Joseph Rossi and Harold L. Ickes at the Pulgas Temple celebration.
Board of Public Works, Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct, Supervisor’s party at weir in Pulgas outfall canal.