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Parks and Open Spaces
Surmounted by a freighted galleon, with streaming pennant and wind-filled sails, a granite pedestal "remembers" Robert Louis Stevenson in Portsmouth Square, cradle of San Francisco's civic history. This square, the Plaza of the early city, was the forerunner of a chain of parks, children's playgrounds and open spaces that checkers San Francisco with refreshing green.
Farther uptown is Union Square, in the center of the hotel and retail district. Over on the other side toward North Beach, at the foot of Telegraph Hill, is Washington Square, one of the recreation spots of the Latin Quarter, with church spires outlined above its willows. A park that will command the entire harbor is being built on top of Telegraph Hill.
In the Western Addition, Richmond, Sunset and Mission districts are many parks that provide resting places for mothers, their infants in go-carts, and romping children.
Golden Gate Park is the aureole of San Francisco's recreational haunts. It was saved to the city in the beginning by Frank McCoppin and C. R. Dempster and made an area of living beauty by John McLaren, Scotch landscape engineer, who is Superintendent of Parks.
From the panhandle at Baker street to the Ocean Beach, the park stretches like a massive gold-green buckler enameled with lustrous gems. There are 1013 acres in the park, its Main Drive, including the panhandle, being 4 1/2 miles long.
Whether you loiter along tree-shaded alleys, or stroll through rhododendron dells in the late Spring, when the landscape fairly quivers with color, there is an ineffable loveliness about Golden Gate Park. Its opulence is heightened by its contrasts, as are all well-considered landscape designs. Treading the expanse of daisy-starred emerald lawns, loitering under the elms in the Band Concourse, or wandering through the dwarf trees patterned against humpback bridges in the Japanese Tea Garden, you find new lures in Golden Gate Park with each successive visit.
The de Young Memorial Museum, the Academy of Sciences, the Steinhart Aquarium, Stow Lake, the Dutch windmills, Huntington Falls, the aviary, the buffalo paddock, the bear pit, the children's playground with its goats and donkeys, the tennis courts, the harness racing in the Stadium, the bowling on the green - almost every rod of the thousand odd acres in the park unfolds unexpected allurements.
On a hill in the park is the granite cross which commemorates the first church service in the English language on the American continent, held in 1579 by Sir Francis Drake's chaplain on the coast just north of the Golden Gate.
A copy of Rodin's bronze Thinker is here. The "Portal of the Past," taken from a Nob Hill residence after the fire of 1906, is seen in idyllic whiteness against a clump of Irish yews across the luminous water of a lake that picks up their outline like a Renaissance picture. Statuary, classic and modern, arrests interest at every turn in the park. Among the figures and busts are those of Junipero Serra, General Grant, Goethe, Schiller, Cervantes, General Pershing and President Garfield.
At the extreme westerly end of the park, fronting the sea whose perils it braved, is the sloop Gjoa in which Captain Roald Amundsen cut one of the Gordian knots of exploration and found and navigated the Northwest Passage.
Lincoln Park, with a municipal golf course on a headland overlooking the Golden Gate, affords a distant but luring view of San Francisco. In Lincoln Park is a replica of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in Paris, gift of Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Spreckels as a memorial to San Francisco's soldiers in the world war. In addition to its art treasures it was built to house trophies from all the fronts on which the American expeditionary forces fought, Marshal Foch and other commananders having interested themselves in the collection.
The Palace of Fine Arts on the Marina close to the Presidio, with its masterpieces from the Phoebe A. Hearst and other collections, is a short drive from Lincoln Park. The city's Aquatic Park is close by.
Sutro Heights, with its gardens, classic marbles and outlook upon the sea, is near the Cliff House above the Ocean Beach. The Seal Rocks and the Sutro baths are in sight of these heights.
San Francisco has established a new playground for children at the end of Sloat Boulevard, with a second municipal golf course and the largest outdoor swimming pool in the world among its attractions.
Repository of Pioneer Treasures
The Memorial Museum on the Concourse in Golden Gate Park