July 1, 2016

So why is the Shakespeare Garden named after the Bard? and other fun Golden Gate Park facts. Sad that many people who LIVE in sf don’t spend more time here.

July 1, 2016

So why is the Shakespeare Garden named after the Bard? and other fun Golden Gate Park facts. Sad that many people who LIVE in sf don’t spend more time here.

Whether you’re a Bay Area native or simply a tourist, you’ve probably spent time in Golden Gate Park. Despite its rich history, most people don’t know much about the largest manmade park in the world. We’ve compiled 15 fun facts that’ll impress your friends and wow your guests the next time they’re in town.

1. “The Outside Lands”

Golden Gate Park’s 1,017 acres are built upon reclaimed sand dunes once referred to as the “Outside Lands,” covering an area 20% larger than Central Park!

2. Refugee Camp

The Park served as a tent filled refugee camp for more than 40,000 survivors of the 1906 earthquake.


3. The First Fortune Cookie

During the Midwinter International Exposition of 1894, the Japanese Tea garden was the first place in the U.S. to serve a “fortune cookie.”


4. Home to California’s last grizzly

The park was once home to zebras, peacocks, ostriches, and California’s last grizzly bear. His name was Monarch, and not only did he serve as the model for the bear on California’s state flag, he’s also on display at the California Academy of Science.


5. To be or not to be

The Shakespeare Garden only features plants and flowers mentioned in William Shakespeare’s works. On the back brick wall, there are quotes and passages from his plays engraved on tablets.


6. The Dutch Windmill

The Dutch Windmill at the northwestern end of the park once pumped up to 1.5 million gallons of water a day. It was used for irrigation, once pumping water into a reservoir now known as Stow Lake.


7. The Largest Windmill in 1905

The recently restored Murphy Windmill at the southwestern end of the park was the largest in the world when constructed in 1905 with 114’ long sails.


8. Oh give me a home…

Since 1890, a herd of American Bison have lived in the park. The herd still survives thanks to conversation efforts and maintenance by the park staff.


9. Forests, Meadows, and Lakes, oh my!

Golden Gate Park comprises 680 acres of forest, 130 acres of meadows, 15 miles of drives, and 33 acres of lakes.


10. Gambling in the late-1800s

An ornate pedestrian suspension bridge, observatory and a gambling casino were all located in the park during the 1890s. The casino was accused of serving as a brothel, which contributed to its short reign from 1892-1897.


11. The Haunting of Stow Lake

Beware of visiting Stow Lake at night or you might have a ghostly interaction with Stow Lake’s “White Lady.” The original story tells of a lady dressed in white who was enjoying a stroll in the park with her baby. When she decided to rest on a bench, her stroller rolled into the lake. The desperate woman searched everywhere and ultimately disappeared into the lake, and was never seen again (except as a ghost).


12. Butterfly Porn at Strawberry Hill

Officially the highest point in Golden Gate Park, Strawberry Hill is considered a popular mating ground for Swallowtail Butterflies.


13. Summer of Love origin

Polo Fields, a large multi-purpose stadium in the middle of the park, was the site of the 1967 Human Be-in event that kickstarted the famous Summer of Love hippie movement.


14. Free Archery

Golden Gate Park offers the only archery field in San Francisco that’s completely free…bows and arrows not included.


15. Lawn Bowling Club

The oldest Lawn Bowling Club originated in Golden Gate Park in 1901 by the St Andrew Society.


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