Golden Gate Park: Celebrating 150 years of community

Celebrating the past, present, and future

Life + Leisure Travel and Getaways Brian Webb

This article was published on April 19th, 2020

Golden Gate Park has come to embody the indomitable spirit of San Francisco and beyond.

For the LGBT community specifically, it’s a symbol of resilience and conquering. Every year for the last 21 years, for example, Golden Gate Park has played host to Flagging in the Park in the National AIDS Memorial Grove.

Flagging in the Park served as an expression of joy and remembrance when the virus claimed the lives of nearly half of the city’s gay community. Flagging in the Park brings together a diverse community, in an explosion of bright color and dance, to celebrate and support each other, and strengthen community bonds. For 2020, Flagging in the Park has moved to a virtual format, still celebrating and embodying the spirit of the annual in-person event.

A brief history of the Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park was established in 1870 through an act of the legislature. Initially set of 1013 acres of windswept western dunes, the park has since expanded in acreage to the current 1017.

The unenviable job of turning the desert dunes to a park fell into the hands of William Hammond Hall, a surveyor, and designer who became the park’s first superintendent.

One hundred fifty years down the line, the park is a marvel, refuge, and calm getaway for overwhelmed city dwellers. Its very existence speaks to the can-do-attitude and the resilience of the people of San Francisco.

Fun facts about Golden Gate Park

  1. Golden Gate Park is home to 680 forested acres, 130 acres of meadows, 15 miles of drives, 33 acres of lakes. Fields and open spaces take up several dozen acres.
  2. The park is 20% larger than New York’s Central Park(1,017 acres vs. 840). It’s one of the most visited parks in America, with 25 million visits a year.
  3. The park is home to several unique gardens, including the Shakespeare Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Tea Garden, Queen Wilhelmina Garden, and Conservatory Valley with its graphic floral plaques.
  4. The park also hosts the California Academy of Sciences, de Young MuseumNational AIDS Memorial, Stow Lake, a nine-hole golf course, two windmills, a bison paddock, the oldest public playground in America, the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club, and more.

History, culture, and people

Golden Gate Park embodies the past, present, and future. It has been transformed and celebrated in a multitude of ways over the years.

Park activities include bicycling, roller skating, Segway tours, golf, disk golf, soccer, fishing, archery, swing dancing, drumming circles, and lots of picnics.

The park traditionally plays host to various annual events including the Bay to Breakers Race, Comedy Day in the Park, Opera in the Park, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Outside Lands and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festivals, among others. For 2020, some of these events may be cancelled or postponed due to the shelter-in-place order and social distancing measures. Check event websites for the event status. 

Golden Gate Park is a beacon of hope for the SF community and beyond. It’s an oasis of calm amid the city’s bustle. Celebrating 150 years is a testament, and lesson to all, and especially the LGBT people on resilience, solidarity, and community.

Plan your next trip to San Francisco now

San Francisco is home to a little bit of everything. Whether you’re a first time visitor or a long-time local, San Francisco’s Golden Gates welcome all. From tickets and more suggestions of things to do, to deals, maps, and visitors guides, San Francisco Travel can help you plan your ultimate gaycation!


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