|By Jenna Wolf
Sunday, December 11, 2005
For decades, Bostonians relied on the red and blue lights atop the old John Handcock Tower and a rhyming adage to predict the weather. Now, a two-ton metal codfish that embodies function and art may do the trick.
The 45-foot stainless steel stucture dancing 60 feet above Legal Sea Foods Headquarters not only determines wind speed and direction by a luminating eye, it is the traditional symbol of the state’s early maritime economy.
“I spent an entire year thinking nothing but fish, fish, fish,” said David Tonnesen, a Somerville resident who designed and crafted the weathervane. “The codfish is the whole reason why Boston is such an important port. So, it had to be it.”
The weathervane operates on the Beaufort Scale, a system for estimating wind strength without the use of instruments, developed in 1805. The fish’s eyeball, a frosted globe, is capable of displaying 4 million vibrant colors.
“The fish has a brain and wind is important to boaters,” he said. “It has function, but it’s more a prominent part of the harbor landscape and in that way, it’s art.”
With Boston truly the windiest major city in the country, Tonnesen said he has to pick two of the calmest days a year to climb the building and give the fish a physical - a serious greasing of its rotating scales.
“There aren’t any days where those scales aren’t moving, spinning or flashing,” he said. “It’s my baby and I worry about it.” |