Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Along its rectangular, 3-mile length, between Fulton Street and Lincoln Way in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park offers scores of possibilities for urban outdoor recreation: lawn bowling, tennis, golf, Frisbee golf, soccer, archery, equestrian, and a pool dedicated to fly-casting practice. The park’s west end abuts the Pacific Ocean.
Engineer William Hammond Hall surveyed the Golden Gate site in 1870 and championed the park plan into the late 1880s, defeating in 1886 a rival plan to turn the site into a racetrack. Hall’s assistant, John McLaren, oversaw the actual construction, which from 1875 to 1879 involved the planting of over 150,000 trees on what had been mostly sand dunes. McLaren took over from Hall in 1887, and ultimately lived in the park in McLaren Lodge until he died in 1943. McLaren’s modeled his initial design on New York’s Central Park, but financial and space constraints called for a revision to fit the dimensions and structural plans at Golden Gate.
Golden Gate Park was the location of the famous 1967 “Human Be-In,” and the park has long been a site of large outdoor gatherings, including an annual bluegrass festival. From April through October, visitors can enjoy free concerts on Sundays in the Band Shell Stage.
Since 1971, the San Francisco Parks Trust has worked to raise the funding and awareness to restore and preserve various sites in the city’s parks, including major efforts in Golden Gate Park, such as the $25 million raised to restore the Conservatory of Flowers, completed in 2003 (the Trust's largest capital project to date).
Major sites within the park include: The California Academy of Sciences, one of the world's largest natural-history museums, and which contains the Steinhart Aquarium. The San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, a 55-acre arboretum with over 7,500 plant species (New Deal WPA funding helped start the plantings in 1937). The wooded Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest public Japanese garden in the U.S., created in 1894. And the AIDS Memorial Grove, created in 1988 and designated a national memorial by Congress in 1996.