San Francisco is renowned for ingeniously utilizing its abandoned structures and revitalizing spaces that otherwise would have laid dormant. Aside from Presidio's successful new Tunnel Tops park inaugurations, another true example of this resourcefulness is made clear with Crane Cove Park.
Joining together the seaside neighborhoods of the Dogpatch and Mission Bay, this gorgeously lovely seven-acre green space channels both trendy contemporary design and vintage curiosity through its industrial structures left intact and incorporated into the aesthetics. Crane Cove Park is an exceptional choice for a serene nature outing, enhanced even further by its remnants of history unseen in any other park.
While it currently stands as a delightfully cute coastal getaway with an incredible view, this former port's accessibility to the water is exactly what made it a prime location for the Union Iron Works Machine Shop during World War II. Its former maritime life remains legendary with its two restored metal cranes, adoringly named Nick and Nora from the movie "Thin Man."
These two rehabilitated cranes act as towering icons for park visitors to both gaze at in awe, as well as reflect on the tireless efforts made on this very area during one of the most tumultuous periods of American and San Francisco history. Crane Cove Park also now resides as part of the Union Iron Works National Register Historic District, and several other abandoned structures still stand just inaccessible to public exploration.
Leading towards one of the park's cranes is also a pavement that's unmissable for its interactive public art that replicates the sizes of former naval ships and even the current transbay terminal. Other must-visit highlights include its tucked-away beach area, rentable kayak boathouse, bucolic gardens, numerous comfy benches, usable grills, and of course, its sweeping green field for exquisite lounging.
The park is also thoughtfully designed to withstand up to 28 inches of sea level rise, measured carefully to ensure future city safety and sustainability. Thanks to the Crane Cove Capital Campaign, a partnership between the San Francisco Parks Alliance and SF Port has triumphantly been able to fundraise for the full enhancement of the area, which were excluded from the Port’s budget.
This campaign devotes itself to fully actualizing the area to make it pleasant and usable for all of its community's children, dogs, and adults to fully explore its history.
Crane Cove Park is located on 18th and Illinois Street, and is open daily between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. With its prime location in one of SF's fastest developing neighborhoods that includes other must-visits of the new RH and Third Rail bar, this is a fantastic area to visit and soak up all of its insightful points of interest, not to mention the immensely picturesque views.
You are sure to feel like a kid again venturing this chic industrial-integrated field, and will certainly leave with a deeper reverence for the predecessors who once operated these valiant remnants.
Photography by: Matthew Davis/Unsplash