The Presidio’s Transformation
The land at the Golden Gate was home to native people for thousands of years. In 1776, Spain established the Presidio, a frontier military fort, to claim the strategic bay. The Presidio later served as a Mexican garrison until 1846, when it became a U.S. Army post. Over the past two decades the Presidio has experienced yet another transformation, becoming a national park in the heart of a bustling urban area. Since 1994, major improvements have made the Presidio a welcoming place where millions of people experience history, recreation, learning, and the great outdoors.
CRISSY FIELD REVITALIZATION - Once a wild coastal wetland, Crissy Field evolved over a century to meet the military’s needs. Today it is a recreational destination and a haven for wildlife.
TRAILS AND BIKEWAYS - Following more than a decade of work, today the Presidio features 24 miles of hiking trails, 15 miles of bikeways, and eight scenic overlooks.
MAIN PARADE GROUND - The Main Parade Ground, where soldiers once conducted drills and exercises, was a large parking lot for decades. In 2011, it was transformed into a green gathering space for community events.
PRESIDIO OFFICERS’ CLUB - Established in 1776, the Officers’ Club speaks to California’s colonial beginnings. In the 20th century, it was the gathering place for Army brass. A 2014 renovation has made it the park’s home for culture, community, and education.
The Presidio Tunnel Tops Project
The biggest improvement yet is now taking shape – the Presidio Tunnel Tops Project.
In 1936, Doyle Drive, the highway connecting San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge, was built through the Presidio. It was elevated above ground so that civilian vehicles would not interfere with Army operations in the military post. Unfortunately, the freeway blocked both the view and access between the heart of the Presidio and its northern waterfront.
When it came time to replace the seismically unstable Doyle Drive in the 1990s, the Army was preparing to depart the Presidio. City leaders envisioned a less visually obtrusive roadway that would fit the Presidio’s future role as a national park. The solution was a roadway tucked into the natural contour of the Presidio - the elegant
Today, the Presidio Parkway is largely complete and we are creating a new experience of the park on a spectacular 14-acre site atop the new roadway tunnels. The Presidio Tunnel Tops will be “San Francisco’s Great Escape - a new park destination where visitors will connect with nature and the outdoors, where kids will play and grow, and where all of us will be inspired by 360-degree views that were never before possible. The Presidio Tunnel Tops will be where we can escape from the stresses of urban life without ever leaving the city we love.
Learn more about the design >>
In 2014, the Presidio Tunnel Tops Project was kicked off with the “imagine” phase, a community conversation that brought to light the public’s ideas and dreams for the site. The
project partners also conducted a global search for a lead designer to harness the potential of the tunnel tops site, and awarded the commission to
James Corner Field Operations, best known for New York City's High Line.
In 2015, the public began shaping how the Presidio Tunnel Tops will look and what people can do there. More than 10,000 people attended
workshops and tours,
shared comments and ideas, visited the website, and dropped into the
Project Lab. The design process will conclude in 2017, followed by a two year construction period. The opening day celebration is expected in 2019.