What is a Presidio?
According to the dictionary:
A garrison, especially a fortress of the kind established in the southwest United States by the Spanish to protect their holdings and missions.
For 218 years, the Presidio in San Francisco served as an army post for three nations.
The Spanish arrived in 1776 to establish the northernmost outpost of their empire in western North America. The Presidio fell under Mexican rule for 24 years before the U.S. Army took control in 1846. Since 1994, the Presidio has been a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Whether you want to hike or bike, view historic military architecture, explore tidal marshes and beaches, or take in a ranger-led program, there is something for everyone at the Presidio.
The National Park Service at the Presidio offers a variety of scheduled ranger and docent led programs
, and group programs that can be arranged by appointment in advance.
For more information or to schedule a group program contact:
Presidio Interpretation at (415) 561-2817 or (415) 561-4323
The entire Presidio has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Of the 870 structures on the former post, 470 are considered to have historical significance.
Interesting note: Major Jonathan Letterman, after whom the hospital at the Presidio was renamed in 1911, was the medical director of the army and founding father of military medicine. Letterman organized forward first-aid stations, mobile field hospitals, and ambulance services during the Civil War.
On the site where once stood the very important Letterman Army Hospital is the Letterman Digital Arts Center, One Letterman Drive near the Lombard Gate. Today it's the home of Lucas Film and a 23 acre open park space. While Lucas doesn't provide tours you can sit by the Yoda fountain and enjoy the beautiful views. And you can go in the lobby of Building B and see a gallery of Lucasfilm memorabilia...Take your picture with Darth Vader!
There's plenty else to see ...the San Francisco National Cemetery occupies 30 acres in the Presidio...Over 30,000 Civil War Generals, Medal of Honor recipients, Buffalo Soldiers, and other military heroes lay under the grove of Monterey Pines...
Though the majority of animals buried in the Presidio pet cemetery are dogs and cats, there are also parakeets, canaries, pigeons, macaws, rabbits, hamsters, rats, lizards, goldfish, and mice.
Historic Fort Scott is next door..Fort Scott was established in 1912 and overlooked the large guns used to guard the bay...today you can still visit those gun placements at Battery Chamberlain on Baker Beach...Fort Scott is continuing to develop new civilian uses such as the upcoming National Leadership Center...
Interesting note: In the three days following the 1906 earthquake, the Army's refugee camps at the Presidio issued 3,000 tents, 12,000 shelter halves, 13,000 ponchos, 58,000 pairs of shoes, and 24,000 regulation blue shirts.
The only camp ground in San Francisco is the very popular Rob Hill Campground in the Presidio open April through October...this is tent camping only...reservations are required and you can have to arrive early to get a spot...
There is also a historic building known as The Log Cabin in the Presidio..Originally built in 1937 as a non commissioned officer's club...today the Log Cabin is used for meetings weddings and other events...
Called the Presidio's front door Crissy Field lies along the bay..it was originally an air strip and transport staging area for the military between 1919 and 1936....Today Crissy Field has been restored to a large meadow where visitors can play or picnic on the picnic tables..the marshland in front has been restored attracting many sea birds. The wide promenade path provides fantastic views...
The historic buildings have turned into such attractions as a media lab,children’s swim school, a rock climbing gym, a trampoline house, a bike shop, and a sports retailer. There is also a cafe and bookstore, a resource library and other facilities....The new Presidio Parkway will provide even easier access and change the area with even more open spaces.
Finally, don't miss Fort Point, a military defense site since the Spanish first landed in the bay...the fort was built in the Civil War days with heavy gun placements. It is known for its intricate masonry...rather than tear down the fort the Golden Gate bridge was built on top of it...You can visit the fort for free on Friday, Saturday and Sunday...Civil War re-enactments are held in January.
The PresidioGo Bus will take you from the BART Embarcadero station to the Presidio and around the area as well. It is free from 10am to 3pm. To get schedules go to presidiobus.com
Plan your visit:http://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/upload/goga-folder-web2.pdf