Length of Excursion
Points of Interest
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.
Ample parking anywhere along the Bay
side except in spaces marked as permit parking only;11 accessible spaces (see
Transportation: Bus routes are
listed in here on the Excursions
of Excursion: Any length up to
.8 mile if you walk once around the square.
• 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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
Themes for repeating the walk:
•Birds/ducks •Flowers •Flags •Plaques •Homes •Views •Passing
San Francisco on the Level,
Marilyn Straka © 2000
Map by Ben Pease
On top of 499 Marina Blvd. at the corner of Scott and Cervantes. Best
visibility is from the SW corner of the Green. Back