The largest and best known park in San Francisco is the 1,017 acre (411 ha) Golden Gate Park. Its history goes back to 1870 when the site was an area of wild sand dunes. At the time, the area, known as 'outside lands', was well outside the city's developed limits.
Golden Gate Park
In 1870, William Hammond Hall, a civil engineer, was contracted to design the park. He was inspired by Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of the Central Park in New York
He created a hilly park with a varying landscape of lakes, meadows, ridges and winding roads. To convert the sand dunes into a forested parkland, innovative sand reclamation techniques were used and a dike was built to protect the park from the sea.
In 1871 William Hall was appointed as the first superintendent of the new park. He was succeeded in 1887 by John McLaren, a Scottish native. During the fifty-six years as superintendent of the park, he planted thousands of trees and converted the area into the
park as we know it today.
Conservatory of Flowers
The main attractions of the park are located at the eastern side. Here you find the Conservatory of Flowers as well as the Japanese Tea garden
and the adjacent M.H. De Young Museum.
The Conservatory of Flowers
, a Victorian-style greenhouse is modeled after the Palm house at the Kew Gardens in London
. It was built between 1876 and 1883 and houses a collection of tropical plants and flowers.
The M.H. De Young Museum
has its origins in the 1894 Midwinter International expo. The Fine arts Museum, temporarily built for the expo, was so successful that it was decided to establish a permanent museum. The museum has a very diverse collection, including paintings from the Laurance Rockefeller collection.
Japanese Tea Garden
Another remnant from the 1894 expo is the Japanese Tea Garden
. Following the success of the expo's Japanese village, a Japanese Tea Garden
was constructed to display the Japanese lifestyle. The garden, covering five acres (two hectares), features a teahouse, sculptures, ponds, bridges and many native Japanese plants.
The Golden Gate Park has many more attractions including the
Queen Wilhelmina Garden
Buffalo paddock, a rose garden, the Steinhart aquarium and the Botanical Garden
. At the north-west corner of the park there's even a Dutch garden, complete with an authentic windmill. The park is also popular for its sports facilities which include tennis, pétanque, golf, fly-fishing, biking, inline skating, archery, handball and horseback riding. On weekends, the meadows in the park are used by many visitors as picnic grounds.
The Golden Gate Park is located between Haight Ashbury
and the Pacific Ocean in downtown San Francisco. It attracts more than twelve million visitors yearly.
- Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes