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Early History of Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is San Francisco's largest park, comprising 1,013 acres. It is a narrow parallelogram approximately 3 miles long by 1/2-mile wide, extending from the east at Stanyan Street to its western boundary at the Great Highway. Its northern boundary is Fulton Street, extending south to Lincoln Way.

The park was the outgrowth of the city's legal fight to establish its title to the four square leagues (17,000 acres) orignally granted it under Mexican law, called the Outside Lands, and settled by squatters.

Shortly before 1866, a clamor for a large public park began, and city authorities moved to obtain the land. A compromise settlement between the city, the squatters, and other so-called land owners was approved by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors January 14, 1868, and ratified by the State Legislature March 27, 1868.

The first Park commissioners appointed William Hammond Hall to survey and prepare maps of the park area, and he was appointed the first Park Superintendent August 14, 1871.

The legacy of Mr. Hall can still be seen and felt in Golden Gate Park because he deliberately designed roads and pathways with curves and bends to discourage fast horse-and-buggy drivers, and to shelter visitors from the wind. Walkways were kept away from roads, and low spots, known as dells, were planted with shrubbery and plants to attract birds and small wildlife for the pleasure of visitors.

IN: The San Francisco Almanac