What was once the abandoned Francisco Reservoir has now been given a major facelift, finding new life as the city’s newest park.
Late last month on April 27th, Francisco Park was unveiled, and over 100 local community members gathered to view the former Russian Hill eye-sore’s transformation after being fenced off for 80 years.
This grand opening came in conjunction with the premiere of Battery Bluff Park and car-free JFK Drive, signaling a shift for greater green space appreciation in the city, which attendee Mayor London Breed made sure to emphasize.
"San Francisco is so fortunate," Breed gleefully remarked. "We're fortunate because we take a reservoir and other things that were made to not be accessible or available to the public, and we create something magical and beautiful that brings people together."
Another significant participant of the 4.5-acre park’s opening was San Francisco Supervisor Catherine Stefani, also powerfully stating, "This site used to be a walled off, cement reservoir, that didn't serve any purpose whatsoever. It was ugly, it was inaccessible, and it was destined to stay that way, except that people here envisioned more for themselves, more for their neighborhood, and more for our beloved city."
Francisco Park is the largest urban park to open in over 40 years, offering sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge all the way to Ghirardelli Square and Alcatraz.
The park’s origin as a reservoir located on Bay Street, began in 1860 to provide northern San Francisco during the city’s expansion within the Gold Rush era. Over 2 million gallons of water filled the reservoir, which truly came to the rescue during the 1906 earthquakes and fires.
The reservoir was decommissioned in 1940 and totally abandoned since 1966, becoming a dormant and inaccessible space in Russian Hill’s otherwise bucolic landscape.
The Recreation and Parks Department acquired the land for the new park in 2014 for $9.9 million from the Board of Supervisors, and with a blooming partnership with the Francisco Park Conservancy, their vision for revitalization all came to fruition this year.
The expansive park adorns two city blocks and is replete with a large playground with interactive equipment, community gardens, a tea tree grove, dog park, and of course, the remarkable panoramic view.
Named after St. Francis De Assisi, the lush park is dedicated to honoring his appreciation for nature's beauty and local wildlife.
Mayor Breed reiterates, “parks and open space play a critical role not just for recreation but for bringing the community together,” and along with all the recent positive nature development around the city, summer in San Francisco will be unlike any other this year.
Photography by: Forest Simon/Unsplash