SF celebrates 154th birthday of Golden Gate Park

A rare Corpse Flower bloom may occasionally take place inside the Conservatory of Flowers within Golden Gate Park. The conservatory is the park’s oldest building.
File photo/https://gggp.org/conservatory-of-flowers/

SAN FRANCISCO – One of San Francisco’s most visited and beloved parks celebrated its 154th birthday with a lively event that included Mayor London N. Breed, City officials, community members, and residents. The April 4 celebration was held near the Conservatory of Flowers — the park’s oldest building — featuring entertainment, activities, a rock-climbing wall, a birthday cake, and more.

Golden Gate Park’s birthday this year is especially significant, as the park has been nominated by U.S.A. Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards for Best City Park. Golden Gate Park is in the running along with 19 other city parks nationwide.

At the birthday celebration, the mayor joined Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg and encouraged all San Franciscans to vote for the park online. The top 10 winning parks will be announced on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

“Golden Gate Park is the city’s crown jewel, drawing San Franciscans, people from across the Bay Area and around the world to enjoy in its splendor,” said Mayor Breed. “What better way to celebrate a birthday than by being nominated as one of the best parks in the nation. Golden Gate Park isn’t just a park – this expansive and beautiful open space serves as a unique urban oasis like no other, providing nature, beauty, art, entertainment, and so much more. I want to thank Rec and Park and city staff for their dedication and maintaining of one of the city’s most precious assets.”

“This park is part of the cultural fabric of San Francisco. It’s a place to celebrate, relax, play sports, bird watch, see bison, catch a concert, and even swing dance!” Rec and Park general manager Phil Ginsburg said. “Golden Gate Park is one of the city’s most sacred public spaces. To be able to witness first-hand the transformation it’s gone in regard to improving access and upgrading amenities has been an honor.”

“Golden Gate Park stands as a testament to the ingenuity, resilience, and unwavering spirit of our city,” said Scott Beck, San Francisco Travel president and CEO. “Like San Francisco, over a century and a half, Golden Gate Park has evolved and adapted with the times. It is a vibrant hub and beloved sanctuary for residents and visitors alike—a place of beauty, recreation, art, and inspiration.”

The park was initially known as Outside Lands when the first Park Superintendent William Hammond Hall first began designing it in 1870. Since then, the 1,017-acre park has been transformed from natural sand dunes into a world-class park with areas for picnics and relaxations, athletic fields, art installations, 1.5 miles of car-free promenade, live music, festivals, sporting events, museums, lakes, gardens, bison, monuments, memorials, children’s play areas, and more.

Golden Gate Park has also served as a backdrop for some of San Francisco’s most historic events, including the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894, the first World’s fair held in the U.S. west of the Mississippi. During the 1906 earthquake, the park also served as a campsite for some 200,000 displaced San Franciscans.

Today, an estimated 25 million people visit the park annually. The park boasts several unique gardens including the San Francisco Botanical Garden, the Japanese Tea Garden, Queen Wilhelmina Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers, the Rose Garden, and the Shakespeare Garden, among others. Commemorative trees groves include the National AIDS Memorial Grove, Heroes Grove, Redwood Memorial Grove, and Phil Arnold-Oak Woodlands Trail.

The park is also home to Koret Playground, the nation’s first public playground, and the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Tennis Center, previously known as the Golden Gate Park Tennis Center and established in 1894. Cultural institutions within the park include the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences.

Hundreds of thousands of people visit the park every year to catch some of the city’s most popular live events such as Hardly Strictly, Opera in the Park, Outside Lands, and Comedy Day.

One of the park’s most recent successes includes the creation of a permanent car-free JFK Promenade. A car-free portion of JFK Drive had existed since 1967 on Sundays, however, during the Covid pandemic, Mayor Breed championed to make the remaining 1.5 miles of JFK Drive to become car-free seven-days-a-week. Today, the JFK Promenade is a permanent, car-free street providing public space for bikers, walkers, joggers, kids, and seniors. Along the route, visitors can enjoy art installations, public pianos, rest stops and enhanced entrances featuring seating and lawn games, and live music.

Despite the transformation the historic park has undergone over the years, at its core it remains an open space for community, relaxation, and adventure. Learn more about Golden Gate Park by visiting https://sfrecpark.org/770/Golden-Gate-Park.

(SF Mayor’s Office Release)


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