The Mechanics Monument—labor omnia vincit
Bronze sculpture by Douglas Tilden in San Francisco at Market, Bush and Battery.
Dedicated in 1901, this sculpture also known as the Donahue Memorial Fountain, celebrates Peter Donahue, a successful San Francisco industrialist.
Peter Donahue arrived in the Gold Rush era San Francisco in 1849 and soon opened a small blacksmith shop at the corner of 1st and Mission under a tent. Over the years, Donahue’s business grew into the first foundry on the West Coast, Union Iron Works, which would manufacture the first printing press in the West. Donahue also founded the first streetcar of San Francisco, Omnibus Street Railway, and the San Francisco/San Jose railroad line, still in use to this day by thousands of commuters every day. Donahue also founded the San Francisco Gas Company, which would become the Pacific Gas and Electric company after merging with Edison Electric, still in business today as PG&E.
The monument was a source of inspiration in the rebuilding of San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake and fires. Still close to its original location, the modern tower behind attest to the success of the rebuilding efforts.
The San Francisco of today owes much to the vision and energy of its early pioneers. It is quite remarkable how a single person had such an impact.
The fountain is inscribed with the motto labor omnia vincit. ”Work conquers all”, indeed.