San Francisco – Everyday Insider! (TM) Trip 19E

What urban park is larger than New York’s Central Park yet once consisted only of sand dunes? Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, which is now covered with more than one million trees and is bison-friendly!

Golden Gate Park is the ultimate haven away from urban chaos. It was deeded to the people in 1870 out of the prescient notion that San Franciscans would one day feel “overcrowded”. This foresight proved accurate, as 75,000 people now visit the park on an average weekend! Yet, parts of the Park seem almost empty and solitude is certainly still possible, in most of the grounds.

Back in the 1870s, finding the land was the easy part. But, someone still had to landscape it, and making grass and trees grow out of sand dunes, which were constantly blasted by harsh oceanside winds, was no easy task.

The person who did it was John McLaren, a brazen Scotsman and ardent nature lover. He arrived in San Francisco in the 1870s, and by 1890 he had established grass, trees and numerous plants in this environment which most people thought too barren for lush foliage.

Though the park has seen changes over the years, what remains today is a testament to the will of the City to preserve a place to play, relax and grow culturally.

The newly renovated de Young museum brings a huge wave of visitors, as does the renovated Victorian-era Conservatory of Flowers. The newly-improved Music Concourse opened again in 2006, and the Murphy Windmill returned from repairs in the Netherlands. The California Academy of Sciences opened again in 2008 after huge, cutting-edge architectural improvements.

All of these venues are world-class and just what you would expect of the cultural gem embodied by the mystique of San Francisco.

However, the Roald Amundsen ship “Gjøa” was returned to Norway in 1972, when vandals kept defacing this important piece of maritime history then housed in Golden Gate Park. Originally a gift from San Francisco’s Norwegian community, it has not been returned in this new wave of civic pride. There is an historic marker about Amundsen and the “Gjøa” (pronounced “Joe”) at Golden Gate Park’s Ocean Beach, beside the Beach Chalet, on the western-edge of the park, near where the ship once was kept. It is a 12-foot “bauta,” or stone shaft and it is made of Norwegian granite. The marker features a bas-relief of Roald Amundsen (1872-1928).

More about Amundsen’s fabulous expedition, which ended in San Francisco, next time!

Now, more about options for getting to Golden Gate Park. The article about transportation within the Park is here:
Golden Gate Park Shuttle

Additional Garage Parking

___ Parking for cars and bicycles is conveniently located in the more centrally-located Music Concourse Garage, and you can access this parking from Martin Luther King Blvd. across from SF Botanical Garden (enter the park at 9th Ave and Lincoln Way, garage entrance will be third right) or enter at Fulton Street at 10th Avenue.

The south pod of the garage is closest to the Botanical Garden. The Music Concourse Garage is open 7 days a week from 7:30 am to 10 p.m. year-round, and parking in that garage is encouraged.

Hours and rates:
Monday-Friday 7:30 am – 10 pm ($2.50/hour)
Weekends 7:30 am-10 pm ($3.00/hour)

___ Also check out: UCSF Medical Center Garage at Irving Street near 3rd Avenue, which is also a stop on the GG Park Shuttle route.

Public Transportation

SF Muni Buses

Bay Area Rapid Transit: San Francisco BART This is a metro system which goes beyond the City limits.

SamTrans This is a north to San Francisco from the Peninsula option.

Passes for transportation within San Francisco
___ Passport Pass is available in 1, 3 and 7-day increments and is good for unlimited bus, streetcar and cable car rides.

___ Weekly Pass is good for unlimited bus and streetcar rides Monday through Sunday, and is cheaper than the 7-day Passport but cable car rides cost an extra $1 each.

___ Fast Pass is good for one month of unlimited rides on buses, streetcars, cable cars and BART within the city limits.


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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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