The Presidio is rich in formal, ceremonial landscapes. Historic gates and tree-lined boulevards create a deep sense of place. The Trust has won several awards for preserving the Lombard and Arguello gates. No landscape speaks so directly to military life, however, as the parade grounds. Their expanse framed by prominent buildings conjures up the pomp of military reviews and ceremonies to honor dignitaries or celebrate national events.
Three parade grounds occupy the center of the Main Post.
- El Presidio marks the original 1776 fortification; over time the Trust will excavate El Presidio and create a window onto the earliest days of the Presidio.
- The “Old” Parade Ground was developed in the mid-19th century; it reflects the early occupation and first expansion by the U.S. Army. Today it is a casual space used for recreation and small-scale events.
- The Main Parade Ground is the largest with seven acres sloping from the center of the Main Post towards the bluff overlooking Crissy Field and the San Francisco Bay. Together, the parade grounds create a spectacular ensemble of open space with surprising views of the Bay, the city, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Main Parade Ground had been a parking lot since 1937 when the Main Post was bisected by Doyle Drive to carry traffic from the City to the newly built Golden Gate Bridge. This past year, the Trust replaced the decades old parking lot with a new green, completing one of the earliest goals for transforming the historic military post into a national park site. The new green strengthens the dramatic setting of the Main Post and establishes it as the heart of the park. The Main Parade will provide a setting for programs and events as well as everyday activities to welcome and engage the public.