Pulgas Water Temple was built as a monument to the engineering and construction marvel of the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct project, which carries water more than 160 miles across California from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Bay Area and took more than 24 years to build at a cost of $102 million during the great depression. The project was especially important for the citizens of San Francisco whose memory of the devastating 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires was still fresh and served as the reliable source of water as the foundation for which the massive growth of the city was possible. On October 28, 1934, San Franciscans gathered at Pulgas Water Temple, which marks the western terminus of the aqueduct, to celebrate the arrival of their new mountain water supply. Before the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct was completed, the Sunol Water Temple served to mark the confluence of a major water supply for San Francisco.
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