San Francisco Feature

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Creating Golden Gate Park

In the 1860s, San Francisco was booming. The California gold rush and the transcontinental railroad had swelled the city's population, and San Francisco needed a magnificent public green space to emulate its older, eastern siblings.

City Hall chose an unlikely location: a vast expanse of sand dunes on the western side of the city. The local government cut a deal with the squatters who lived in the area, and in 1870, Golden Gate Park was born... on paper, anyway.

William Hammond Hall, a civil engineer first hired to survey the land, became the park's intrepid first superintendent and began to create an urban oasis. In five years he managed to plant 60,000 trees—a feat on its own, considering that 75% of the park was covered in sand. Legend has it that after many plants failed to take root, a spilled sack of horse feed saved the day. Hall noticed that the toppled barley sprouted, so he mixed lupine with the grain, and voilà—greenery.

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