Golden Gate Park used to be sand dunes and dirt, until just after the Gold Rush when San Franciscans started looking for a place to stop and smell the flowers. Now it’s the fifth most-visited park in the U.S., and today is its 90th birthday — the park along with the Steinhart Aquarium opened to the public on September 29, 1923.
Engineer William Hammond Hall transformed the windy unmanageable sand into an abundant forest in just a few years, after starting work on the park in 1870. By the turn of the century, Golden Gate Park had become what author Christopher Pollock called “the free Disneyland of its time,” creating a common space with fresh air for all San Franciscans to enjoy.
Weather and time have changed the park’s landscape, but now within it you can find two historical windmills, the Botanical Gardens at Strybing Arboretum, and a field, park or course for every kind of sport there is. It’s 20 percent larger than Central Park, covering a total of 1,017 acres that is three miles long and a half mile tall, north to south.
Wandering in Golden Gate Park has been the most fun so far — especially for my dog Ollie who loves chasing birds, even if it means getting all wet. The whole park smells like fresh flowers, and the loudest sound you hear is either rushing water or kids laughing, as long as you’re far enough away from the roads.
Anniversaries of a place this pretty deserve to be remembered. Cake, anyone?