Stockton Tunnel Plaque

Occasionally, I'll find the perfect spot to put something funny.

A good example is almost any platform with four anchor bolts sticking up, eager for something wacky to be bolted on.

This blue platform caught my eye a few months back on a trip to San Francisco. It sits right at chest-level on Bush Street looking down at Stockton Street.  I bet it held a 25-cent telescope until the Green Door Massage parlor sign blocked the view.

Anyway, I remembered to bring a micrometer along last Sunday when I was in town for Brooke's birthday. We stopped by and measured the bolts.

When I first found this platform, I figured a big, wild statue would be a nice addition, but I never got around to making one.

I dreamed of making a fake 25 cent telescope, with a microscope, or a scene from Boston installed, but I never got around to those either.

What I actually made was a phony plaque about the tunnel below this street.

After I downloaded some photos and the insignia for the San Francisco Historical Society, I began designing a plaque. It came together quickly.  I decided I needed some veiled reference to the Green Door sign, but other than that, the sky was the limit.

I also knew that placing the sign would be easy, because it was on public property, but that keeping it unmolested would be almost impossible.

I built a little lectern out of medium density fiberboard and some leftover screws. I planned to screw a regular picture frame to this assembly to make an elegant and infotaining plaque. 

On the right is an image of the final print.

The small print reads:

The Stockton Street Tunnelway, running South below this "Tunnel Top", is recognized as the first of 200 "Oriental labor tunnels" dug within the state of California. Dating to the year 1894, the Oriental labor force indentured by the Moorlock-Datsun Company worked tirelessly in deep water and suffered many deaths in the pursuit of easy, underground passage for the residents of San Francisco.

This Plaque was erected in July 2002 in memoriam for the 3 men who lost their lives digging here, having succumbed to a sudden and terrible subterranean whirlpool.

I included that last bit in reference to the Green Door "massage - sauna - whirlpool" sign.

The printout looked amazing.. I was a little concerned about the ink fading in the sunlight, but I don't really expect it to last THAT long.


I bought a $12 8x10" silver frame and replaced the glass with LEXAN to make it more durable.

Here is a photo of the framed document...
...and here is a photo of the frame attached to the painted stand. It really looked great!

 The total cost was about $24. I guess I'll send a bill to the city.

I finished the plaque just in time for my next trip to San Francisco. This time I was helping Mark pick up his scooter from the SF airport.

I was a bit concerned when I arrived.  There was a group of young filmmakers huddled around the platform. They were filming a woman on the street below.

One of the filmmakers took notice: "What, did you borrow that for the weekend or something?", he asked.

 I gave him the low-down.

I had to make some last-minute modifications to the plaque, but luckily I had a drill in hand for such things. This was quite different from the Downtown Plaza prank, where there was security around. Out on the streets of San Francisco, social norms are pretty lax.

I think the young filmmakers actually provided some cover for my drilling and bolting.

In no time the plaque was in place and I was done! It looks great!

It is always a mystery as to how long something like this will last before it gets removed or destroyed.

Here's hoping it lasts for a long time! It's near the "Tunnel Top" bar if you are in the neighborhood.


Mark sent me a few photos of the installation process.

Here I am, widening the holes for a better fit. Why did I sign the bottom? To reward the guy who steals it? I am retarded.

This is an incredible photo. In the full-size image, sweat is visible on my cheek. Look! I am a PRANK-SURGEON!

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the plaque to disappear. I got four emails from disappointed fans letting me know it was gone. That was nice!

If anyone has any information regarding its disappearance, I would love to hear it.

Special shout-out to cardhouse for helping me comb the gutters and rooftops in my darkest hour.


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August 29th, 2002.
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