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 1,500-acre Presidio has experienced an amazing transformation from military post to national park. Now a green oasis in the midst of a busting urban area, it provides a place to escape, recharge, and reconnect with nature. Since 1994, major improvements have made the Presidio a welcoming place.
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, 25 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. With new amenities, views, play spaces, and gathering places, the new 14-acre Presidio Tunnel Tops project will offer residents and visitors alike an inclusive and safe space in which to connect with the great outdoors.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 >>
- Welcome all with free, open access to a world-class national park site
- Offer a place of renewal in our busy urban lives, where all can relax and renew
- Provide safe and interactive spaces for kids and families to play, learn, discover, and grow
- Connect the heart of the Presidio with the park's waterfront at Crissy Field
- Inspire visitors with iconic 360-degree views not visible from any other San Francisco location
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 2018, followed by a construction period. The opening day celebration is expected in 2021.