In 1865, Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of New York’s Central Park, was understandably skeptical when he surveyed the site where San Francisco Mayor Frank McCopin planned to convert it into a large urban park. did. There was an unsightly 1,013-acre expanse of sand dunes on the outskirts of the city, whipped by strong winds blowing in from the dark gray Pacific Ocean. Despite having the opportunity to build a park bigger than New York, I turned down the request.
But Olmsted wanted to see what happened to Golden Gate Park when San Francisco’s backyards became parks in the 1960s, with everything from bonsai, water buffaloes, and sequoias to Frisbees, free music, and free spirits. I had to laugh and change my mind a century later became the epicenter of the Summer of Love. Today, it still contains pretty much everything residents love about the city. You can’t walk around the park for a week and see it all, but each visit gives you a glimpse into San Francisco’s history, from the park’s oldest corner at its eastern edge to where surf spots replace the park’s borders. You will have the opportunity to walk. Pacific coast.
Walk thru history in Golden Gate Park
The creation of Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park changed into the mind infant of numerous nearby politicians angling to turn a chunk of former Mexican territory at the outskirts of San Francisco right into a worthwhile growth of the developing town. Not the least of those town schemers changed into then-mayor Frank McCoppin, who noticed an possibility to now no longer handiest supply San Franciscans extra elbow room whilst lining his very own wallet on creation grift, however additionally remedy a trouble that had result in prolonged prison battles – namely, the presence of well-to-do and opportunistic squatters looking to lay declare to the Outside Lands now that San Francisco’s fortunes seemed rosy.
Despite Olmsted’s declaration a park large than New York’s Central might in no way prevail at the proposed site, tenacious younger civil engineer William Hammond Hall and grasp gardener John McLaren were given to work. They had a completely unique imaginative and prescient for the time that could banish business eyesores like casinos, resorts, racetracks and an igloo village and as an alternative show off mom nature. It changed into an unorthodox view in an generation whilst Central Park wasn’t even but complete, ten years earlier than even such majestic and one-of-a-type landscapes as Yellowstone might be preserved from improvement as country wide parks.
What to do in Golden Gate Park?
Ultimately, McCoppin, Hall, and McLaren, in their own way, created what San Francisco historian Gary Kimya said was “wild, hairy, labyrinthine, and confusing.” In fact, he writes in his Cool Gray City of Love:
49 Views of San Francisco: “The paradox of Golden Gate Park is that its wildness is almost entirely man-made. … tragic … but represents an ultimately triumphant negotiation between man and the world.”
Several early features of Golden Gate Park support this assessment. Opened in 1879, the Flower Conservatory is filled with rare specimens from Central and South America, as well as aquatic plants native to the Amazon. Stow Lake was created in 1893 along with scenic Strawberry Hill, a family favorite for over 100 years.
Japanese tea gardens are another early success story. He is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, existing for more than a century in the once barren Outside Lands, far from Japan, since the 1894 California Midwinter World’s Fair.
In his 1906, nearly 40 years after the dunes were transformed into a park larger than Olmsted’s masterpiece, the devastating earthquake that shook San Francisco forced thousands of refugees from the Mission’s Dolores Park to Golden Gate Park. Until then, we camped in a park in the city. Some of the huts built by the U.S. military to house earthquake victims were later transferred to permanent property and are still in use today.
As the city recovered, several new institutions found a home in Golden Gate Park, including Kezar Stadium (formerly home to the Oakland Raiders), the California Academy of Sciences, and the de Young Museum. The park’s beloved windmills, one built in 1903 and the other in 1908, held back earthquakes. The Thorny Dahlia Garden appeared in his mid-1920s, and Shakespeare’s Garden includes his collection of 200 plants and is referenced in the Bard’s writings.
WPA and Summer of Love
During the Great Depression, Works Progress Administration not only graced Coit Tower with its controversial mural, but also added new elements to Golden Gate Park, including the San Francisco Botanical Garden, Archery Range, Angler’s Lodge, and Model Yacht Club. They also restored a 1926 Art Deco horseshoe pit and built a beach chalet with beautiful frescoes that tell the story of the construction of Golden Gate Park.
Most impressive is the Hoover Grove of Giant his Sequoias, planted in 1930 to commemorate the victims of World War I, at the south end of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. Here you can see these towering giants without having to drive to the Marin Headlands or Muir Woods National Monument. As for Olmsted’s jab, “There are no mature trees of respectable proportions anywhere near San Francisco.”
Park functions and uses have evolved over decades. A beautiful boathouse on Stow Lake was added in 1946. Twenty years later, at the edge of his Panhandle in a park near Haight-Ashbury, thousands of young people, inspired by free concerts by local bands, drawn to Hippie Hill by the promise of utopia, where the Human Be-In ushered in the summer of love. And lots of cannabis and LSD. A visit to Golden Gate Park every April 20th (honestly, it puts you in a certain pocket every day) gives you a glimpse of what Hippie Hill was like 50 years ago.
Golden Gate Park Today
One of his newest permanent installations in Golden Gate Park is the National AIDS Memorial Grove. Built in 1991, the building is a moving tribute to the millions of lives lost during the plague that ravaged San Francisco’s queer community and rocked the city since the dark 1980s. .
But that’s not all. The park continues to evolve over the years. Today, Golden Gate Park hosts events such as the Bay to Breakers 12K Race, as well as the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and Outside Lands Music Festivals held each October. In December, Christmas illuminations attract families and tourists.
In 2020, the city celebrated the park’s 150th anniversary by hosting temporary art installations at Peacock Meadows (240 John F. Kennedy Drive), including Tangled, a light show by local artist Charles Gadeken. Another novelty to mark the anniversary was the Skystar Wheel, a Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park that will operate until March 2025. That same year, protesters celebrated his June 16 by toppling the park’s historic statues, including Francis Scott Key, Padre Junipero Serra, and Ulysses S. Grant.
Other changes during the COVID-19 pandemic included the Golden Gate Park Sunday Roller Disco Party. It’s a free, community-driven party for roller skaters at Skatin’ Place near 6th Avenue and Kennedy Drive, mostly on Sundays from 12pm to 5pm. with a live DJ.
Keep an eye out for his one of 12 pianos hidden around the botanical garden during the summer months. As part of an event called Flower Piano, there are free piano lessons and choirs at dusk.
How to get to Golden Gate Park
At over three miles long and over 800 meters long, Golden Gate Park has a lot to cover and many entrances. The most popular entrance is on the Panhandle via Fell Street, but entering from Lincoln’s Ninth Avenue takes you past several major attractions.
JFK serves as one of the park’s major thoroughfares, along with Transverse Drive, Chain of Lakes Drive, and 25th Street/Crossover Drive/19th Street/Park Presidio. It was introduced during the COVID-19 19 pandemic to give San Francisco more space to walk or bike away from the crowds. Please visit the park’s website for up-to-date information on road closures due to events and other initiatives.
Cycling, hiking and skating are very popular here. Many buses and streetcars also serve Golden Gate Park, with stops lining the sides of the park.
The park is his 24/7. Restrooms are scattered throughout the park.
Vehicle parking at Golden Gate Park
There are over 4,700 off-street parking spaces throughout the park. Accessible parking is available at McLaren Lodge, Music Concourse (behind the Bandshell), MLK Drive & Music Concourse, and JFK/Transverse Drive. A 800 -spaced music concourse garage ($ 33 per day) and more than 4,700 in the park. The garage of the music concourse is a major parking lot in Skystar Ferris wheel, de Young Museum, several gardens, Cal Academy. It is accessible from Fulton Street on 10th Avenue and is open daily from 7am to 7pm.
The Golden Gate Park Shuttle
The free shuttle to the Golden Gate Park runs every 15 to 20 minutes from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and city holidays.