San Francisco Sightseeing Tours - Take a guided walking tour


Marina Green Excursion

A Short Level Walk in a Park near San Francisco Bay



 Marina Green Shark Kite    © 2000 Marilyn Straka Marina Green     © 2000 Marilyn Straka



Marina Green Promenade    © 2000 Marilyn Straka




Starting Point
Public Transportation
Length of Excursion
Helpful Hints
Area Description
Points of Interest 



Start: Enter Marina Green from Marina Blvd. at Scott St. or the gate between Fillmore St. and Webster St. Walk can start anywhere on the square. At the northwest corner there are curb cuts to either the path around the Green or the Promenade.

Use the map to guide you to the start. Drive and park or take MUNI.


Parking: Ample parking anywhere along the Bay side except in spaces marked as permit parking only;11 accessible spaces (see map).


Public Transportation: Bus routes are listed in here on the Excursions page.


Length of Excursion: Any length up to .8 mile if you walk once around the square.



Helpful Hints:

•  If you enter through the gate between Fillmore St. and Webster St., you may see a sign imposing a parking limitation. This only applies to the spaces on the east side of the Green and to those areas clearly marked as special use.

•  If you like benches to stop and rest, stay on the Promenade or north side of the Green.

•  Consult the map for curb cuts to cross from the Promenade to the path around the Green.

•  Beware, there are no guard railings on the water side of the Promenade. However, the pathway is 10 feet wide and uncrowded.







Description of the Area: Marina Green is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. If you are a local, you may dismiss this excursion as one you have done many times. I encourage you to explore it once more! You may have some pleasant surprises in store. The Green is a large rectangular lawn with a seawall on the Bay side. A paved walkway around the Green affords a remarkable view regardless of the direction you are traveling. To the west — the Golden Gate Bridge and the sunset; to the north — the Bay, Angel Island and Alcatraz; to the east — a harbor, Russian Hill and the City skyline beyond; and to the south — beautiful Marina homes from the 1920's.

As you explore the area, you will find that the Green was the site of the first successful helicopter flight in the Western United States and was used as an airstrip for mail delivery in the 1920's. Today Marina Green is owned and managed by the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department.

Until 1912 this area was dominated by fishermen's shacks surrounded by brackish water. The vision of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition changed that. The fairgrounds was created from 635 acres of marshland. The area was filled in with rubble from the 1906 earthquake and the seawall was built in only 18 months. Magnificent temporary buildings and displays replaced the fishermen's shacks. The Green was designed as a colorful park-like setting and was known as the North Gardens. During the fair, it was here that people met or relaxed before setting out to explore the many exhibits.

Now the excitement of the Fair is replaced by Marina homes and apartments and the Green remains a gathering place with activity everywhere: people feeding birds, flying kites, roller blading, walking, jogging, picnicking and playing frisbee. Bring your own blanket and enjoy this uncrowded area! My favorite section is the Promenade, the wide path along the water's edge.


Points of Interest (in the order you encounter them along a route starting at the northwest corner of Marina Green):


The points of interest are best viewed from the red paved walkway around the Green. Those that can only be viewed from the Promenade are noted.


Yacht Harbor and Marina — Several hundred sailboats and cruisers are berthed in the Marina which extends from Lyon St. to Laguna St. A 2,500 foot long breakwater shelters the harbor complete with two yacht clubs and a 30 foot miniature lighthouse.

Marina Green Yacht Harbor and Marina    © 2000 Marilyn Straka


Wave Organ — Look toward the north, at the end of the breakwater, you will see a collection of rocks known as a Wave Organ. Built of architectural stonework rescued from the seawall, it incorporates pipes set at and below water level. Here you can listen to the varying sounds of the waves as they splash around and into the pipes. You can reach the Wave Organ via Lyon St. and the St. Francis Yacht Club. The last block of the path leading to the Wave Organ is an uneven gravel surface.


William C. Ralston statue — The plaque says, "He blazed the path for San Francisco's onward march to achievement." (1826-1875) Ralston made his fortune with the Bank of California which he founded in 1864. His success in banking allowed him to invest in railroads, mines, mills and the Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco. But, Ralston also had a shady side; by some he is remembered for his trading in fortunes, ruining other peoples' economies, and collapsing banks by his shaky investments. His elaborate home in Belmont is available for touring.

Marina Green William C. Ralston Statue    © 2000 Marilyn Straka


Cross to the Promenade to view the next two points of interest:

Naval Magnetic Silencing Rangehouse — Stop here and read the sign describing the distortion to the earth's magnetic force caused by large steel objects such as Naval ships.

Marina Green Rangehouse    © 2000 Marilyn Straka


Debris from the 1906 earthquake — The debris is visible at low tide if you are looking down to the water's edge from the Promenade. You may wonder why all this is here. Two-thirds of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and there were not enough dumps! Because the Marina area was marshland, it became the dumping grounds. Eventually homes were built over the debris.

Marina Green Earthquake Debris    © 2000 Marilyn Straka


Boats — Spend a few minutes looking at the Bay and you will undoubtedly observe: sailboats (their colorful spinnaker sails can often be seen on Saturday and Sunday afternoons), cargo ships, tugboats, speed boats, Bay cruise boats and even large cruise ships. Naval vessels arrive here during Fleet week in October. A highlight is the Parade of Ships which passes by Marina Green.

Marina Green Boats    © 2000 Marilyn Straka


Birds — Gulls stand guard along the stone wall by the Bay. Pigeons may seem to block your path but they always move as you approach. Graceful brown pelicans can be seen flying low to feed and to take advantage of the lift from the water's surface. If you have a sharp eye, there are many other varieties of birds and ducks to be seen.

Marina Green Promenade    © 2000 Marilyn Straka


California Sea Lions — They are abundant in the Bay and may be spotted swimming to meet their friends and families at Pier 39. This population of sea lions once lived on the Seal Rocks by the Cliff House at the end of Golden Gate Park. Mysteriously, in 1989, they left the Seal Rocks and moved to the abandoned piers next to Pier 39.


Parcourse — Exercise equipment and a Parcourse stop is at the southeast corner of the green. There are several exercise stops along this route and the stops extend to Upper Fort Mason. Although the Parcourse is more than twenty years old, most of these stops are still usable. Parcourses became popular in the mid-1970's and were installed at several city parks. The Parcourse is so-named because at each stop, there is a suggested number of repetitions of the exercise based on your level of fitness.


Kites — On most afternoons you will see a variety of kites flying over the Green. The multi-colored stunt kites are an impressive sight and are expertly steered through the sky. I've never seen a mishap but I usually stand back if it is a very windy day.

Marina Green Kites    © 2000 Marilyn Straka


Flag pole and Memorial Plaques — It is here at the intersection of Marina Blvd. and Casa St. that you learn about some of the unique uses of Marina Green throughout the years. The memorial plaques speak for themselves. Commemorating the first Western helicopter flight, "At this site on August 10, 1944 — Stanley Hiller, Jr. — Pioneer helicopter designer. Made the first sustained and successful public flight of a helicopter in the Western U S. This single-place rotor-craft, the XH-44, was the first helicopter designed and built in the West and America's first successful co-axial helicopter". Commemorating Marina Air Field, "The first terminus of the United States Post Office Dept. Trans-Continental Air Mail Service. The first scheduled mail-plane landed here on September 9, 1920."

Marina Green Flagpole    © 2000 Marilyn Straka


Marina Blvd. homes — What is now the Marina district was once largely part of San Francisco Bay, until completion of the tidal land fill project which provided the site for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. All of these homes were built after the exposition buildings were dismantled. Most of them date from the 1920's and 1930's. Many homes in this area were damaged and a few completely collapsed in the 1989 earthquake due to the unstable nature of the land fill on which they are built. However, repairs were made quickly and many were reinforced to protect against future quake damage.

Marina Green Boulevard Homes    © 2000 Marilyn Straka

Entrance to the walkway around the Green, 
with the William C. Ralston statue and Marina homes in the background


Homes on South side of the Green:


393 Marina Blvd. — This home, at the corner of Casa St., has Mediterranean styling and is painted in a pastel tone which is typical of many of these homes built in the 1930's. Other typical features include large Bay windows.


485 Marina Blvd. — Notice the red tile roof with interesting towers. The wrought iron fence surrounding this corner property has a shield theme.


499 Marina Blvd. — It is worth the time to cross the street and get a closeup of this building which has a nautical theme. In the courtyard there is an 8-sided star-shaped fountain, created with painted tiles. A jade seal sits in the center of the fountain.

Marina -  Jade Seal    © 2000 Marilyn Straka


Themes for repeating the walk: •Birds/ducks •Flowers •Flags •Plaques •Homes •Views •Passing ships •Sunset

Marina Green Flowers    © 2000 Marilyn Straka






Exploring San Francisco on the Level, Marilyn Straka © 2000  Map by Ben Pease


Exploring San Francisco on the Level, Marilyn Straka © 2000
Map by Ben Pease 

Larger printable map


Puzzle Answer: On top of 499 Marina Blvd. at the corner of Scott and Cervantes. Best visibility is from the SW corner of the Green.  Back to Puzzler.




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Phone 415-608-7757

Marilyn Straka
2295 Vallejo St. #504
San Francisco, CA 94123