Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wednesday Search Challenge (1/2/13): What’s the connection between these two places?

I was walking down one of the charming streets of San Francisco last week, I came across an extraordinary building.  It was so astonishing, I took this picture. 

As you can see in the above image on the left, it’s obviously a building of Victorian vintage, but with a rather unexpected set of roof-top ornaments!  I was struck by how curious and out-of-place it seemed with its domes and crennelation.  

So I took the picture, got online and looked it up.  Ah ha!  Once I realized what it was, I remembered another picture I had in my files—an archival photo of another famous location here in the Valley with a rather different kind of dome. 

Today’s question is another simple one.  (It is the beginning of the year after all—next week we’ll get a little more difficult.) 
What is the connection between these two buildings?    
(And it’s NOT that they both have domes.  There’s a much more interesting fact that links these buildings.) 
For extra credit, can you find the lat/long of the Ashram? 

As usual, let us know how long it took you to find out what the connection is, and what path you followed to find it! 

Search on!


  1. This was both easy and hard. The easy part was determining the buildings.

    My first image search was for [san francisco domed building]. The 2nd row had a black and white photo of your first photo. It is the Old Vedanto Temple.

    For the second image I did a search for [san francisco dome mountain top] and after some browsing, determined that it was the Lick Observatory.

    So that was the easy bit. Finding the link between the two was super tough for me. I looked at the architects to see if there was commonality there. Nope, not as far as I could tell. I did a ton of searches, reading, etc, but couldn't come up with anything.

    Finally, this search [vedanta AND observatory san francisco] yielded something, but I'm not entirely sure if it is the link you are looking for.

    Anyways, in Google Books, there is a book called Vedanta for the West: "The Ramakrishna Movement in the United States". After doing a search within the text for Lick Observatory, one instance came up on page 58:
    The swami at the Old Vedanta Temple had all the clocks in the temple synchronized to the Lick Observatory.


    So that is the only link I could find. I'm worried it is wrong because you said this was an easy one and I couldn't find an easy answer.

  2. Vedanta temple san francisco and Lick Observatory.
    Vedanta society has 160 acres land near Mt. Hamilton, California where Lick Observatory is situated.
    Location : 37° 47' 53.87" N 122° 26' 2.36" W

  3. Happy New Year 2013, Dr. Russell and fellow SearchResearchers

    Trimed your Image.
    Searched the San Francisco one.
    Found: Vedanta Temple and Vedanta Society of

    Northern California.

    Searched the second part in Images found:
    The Lick Observatory in San Francisco

    [Vedanta Temple San Francisco Around(3) Lick Observatory]
    Found: Shanti Ashrama History | Vedanta Society of Northern California › The Society › History

    [Locations] on
    [latitude] in Maps.


    What is the connection between these two buildings?

    A: Miss Minnie C. Boock, offered, as a gift
    for the work, a tract of land of 160 acres
    lying in the San Antonio Valley, eighteen
    miles southeast of Mt. Hamilton, California,
    the site of the well-known Lick Observatory.
    And from there Swami Turiyananda and Miss
    Boock watched the site and established The
    Vedanta Temple. The structure is said to be the first Hindu Temple in the Western Hemisphere

    37.79, -122.43

  4. Two buildings are the Vedanta Society of San Francisco and the Lick Observatory.

    I believe the connection between the two is Astronomer John Dobson, inventor of the Dobsonian telescope. A cheap portable refracting telescope.

    Took about 15 minutes to find. Did a google image search on the whole picture to get the lick observatory then split the picture and did an image search on just the left side. Once I saw Vedanta Society I knew the connection :-)

    Lat/Long: 37.795001,-122.435318

  5. The left hand Photo is the Old Vedanta temple - found with a search in Images for "San Francisco temple domes". This turned up the p[page that confirmed this was the Home of the Vedanta Society.
    The Second building (found by a drag and drop image search) is the Lick Observatory on Mt Hamilton. following one of the links of the wikipedia page gave the page for Lick. Which gave information such as the architect and superintendant.
    I tried various combinations of information from these two sites until "Mt Hamilton (Old Vedanta Temple)" struck gold with a page on the Shanti Ashrama and the story:
    Swami (teacher) Vivekanandaji was instrumental in the forming of the Vedanta Society. One of his students offered a homestead to him for an Ashrama. He sent a colleague to establish it and their expedition took them over Mt Hamilton from where they spied the San Antonio Valley.

  6. The Old Vedanta Temple at the corner of Webster and Filbert Street and Main Dome at Lick Observatory, Mt. Hamilton.
    The connection is the Shanti Ashram.
    Lat/Long is 37.798285,-122.433998 .
    Took longer than i expected. Around 20 mins!
    Although Iam from India, I thought it was a Jewish temple, for some reason :)

  7. Another fascinating tour:

    Dragged the images into Images where they were ID as Vedanta Temple and Lick Observatory.

    Much reading ensued of these 2 institutions - just because. Mostly at and Wikipedia on Lick

    Then I plugged into Search | vedanta lick |

    Discovered that a property had been given to the Vedanta Society in 1900. They decided it would be a great place for a retreat - Shanti Ashrama and so several members made the trek. They had to cross Mount Hamilton home of the Lick Observatory. Eventually the party arrived at 37/19/00 N by 121/28/20 W according to

    Both Institutions were dedicated in part at least to understanding the universe.

    Apart from the extra-curricular reading it took me less than 10 minutes

  8. I tried to do an image search of each of the pictures and came up with nothing so then I did a seach ["San francisco" "onion dome" minaret]; last result on the first page took me to Google Books where I found the following in a book called Romantic Days and Nights in San Francisco: "The structure at Webster and Filbert is a Vedanta monastery. Among its features are a Moorish minaret, a replica of the Tah Mahal, a Russian onion dome, and a Norman tower." For the other picture it looked like an observatory and so I did a search ["San Francisco" observatory] and quickly got the Lick Observatory.
    Finding the connection was a little harder. I did a search on ["Vedanta monastery" "san Francisco"]and then added lick observatory to the search query and came to the same site as Ryburn ImageWorks above.
    The latitude and longitude od the ashram are:
    37/19/00 Longitude: 121/28/20 ...

  9. Split the combined image into two seperate ones. Did a Image Search.

    First Search: San Francisco Vedanta Society
    Second search: Lick observatory

    Did a search to combine these two: San Francisco Vedanta Society vs lick Lick observatory
    First hit was this page:

    'While Swami Vivekananda was in America holding classes and delivering lectures, one of Swami Abhedananda’s students, Miss Minnie C. Boock, offered, as a gift for the work, a tract of land of 160 acres lying in the San Antonio Valley, eighteen miles southeast of Mt. Hamilton, California, the site of the well-known Lick Observatory.'

  10. I don't think anyone has corrected located Shanti Ashrama yet... not quite anyway.

    I did an image search like others to find the San Francisco Vedanta Society and Lick Observatory and spent probably 10 minutes reading before I searched for "vedanta lick observatory" and found the following page:

    This gives an approximate location of Shanti Ashrama, but after checking Google Earth, I found nothing there.

    I came upon this page as maybe some others did:
    This indicates that there is a flood gauge located on the property, however, I believe the meditation cabin of Shanti Ashrama is located a little further south at latitude 37.308450, longitude -121.470750
    This is mostly based on the information found on

    I verified the location by comparing the picture of the meditation cabin to the Google Earth images from 9/29/2009 and 8/23/2012. Not many people realize that Google Earth has historical images and they often show different angles. You can clearly see the front porch and shape of the roof.

    Overall, I spent about an hour on this one, reading and searching.