Golden Gate Park

Citywide Celebration of GG Park’s 150th Anniversary Put on Hold

By Connor Fitzpatrick

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and the San Francisco Parks Alliance have postponed a citywide celebration originally planned for April 4 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park. The sesquicentennial celebration of the storied park, like all public gatherings, has been put on hold due to the efforts to stop the spread of the worldwide pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The event has been postponed to a later date that has yet to be announced.

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful city parks in the world. The photo above shows the Conservatory of Flowers in 2019 – 140 years after it opened – illuminated by one of its nighttime light shows. The Conservatory is one of the park’s favorite attractions and a Victorian-era jewel that is the oldest public wood-and-glass conservatory in North America. The building and its varied collection of plants and flowers is a city, state and national historic landmark. The Conservatory remains one of the most photographed and beloved attractions in San Francisco. The historical photo-of-the-month on page 14 shows the greenhouse in 1880 when it was still a new addition to a young San Francisco and its 10-year-old park. Read more about its history at Photo by Tyler Hansen.

“The 150th Anniversary of Golden Gate Park is an exciting milestone for our City, but it is important that we follow public health recommendations and postpone the community celebration at this time,” said SF Mayor London Breed. “We look forward to celebrating Golden Gate Park later this year.”

The community day celebration was set to highlight the past, present and future of Golden Gate Park through activities and attractions. Included in the planned attractions were a 150 -foot observation wheel, an illuminated bandshell at the Spreckel’s Temple of Music, the city’s largest display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and the introduction of five new bison to the bison paddock.

Despite the change in plans for the celebration, the construction of the observation wheel has continued, but the opening date is unknown. Also, the new additions to the bison paddock are already making themselves at home in their new pasture, and the bandshell upgrades are still being installed.

The 150-foot-tall observation wheel that now towers over the Music Concourse was going to open on April 4 as part of the celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park. The photo above was taken on March 22, before the passenger compartments were added. The opening of the observation wheel and the citywide celebration are on hold until the shelter-at-home order to stop the spread of COVID-19 is lifted. Photo by Michael Durand.

A Rec. and Park press release states: “Given the extensive planning, staging and teams of people required to execute a successful event on April 4, the Recreation and Park Department and San Francisco Parks Alliance, who are jointly organizing the event, determined it would be best to explore another date.”

“Golden Gate Park has been a treasured part of the City since 1870, and we will continue our year-long celebration of that incredible history,” said Rec. and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “We look forward to a community celebration of the park once this public health challenge is behind us. In the meantime, Golden Gate Park remains open for everyone to enjoy.” 

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