Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park

This 100-acre park in the city’s northwestern corner offers superb views of downtown, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands. Its main features are an 18-hole public golf course and the Legion of Honor museum, with its fine collections of European paintings, European decorative arts and sculpture — including a series of masterworks by Auguste Rodin — and the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, the largest repository of works of art on paper in the western United States. Sculptor George Segal’s moving Holocaust Memorial is in a grove of trees across the street from the Legion of Honor. Hikers can pick up the California Coastal Trail here and travel west along the steep cliffs of Land’s End, in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, to the ocean; or east to Baker Beach and the Presidio.

From 1868 until 1909, the land where Lincoln Park now lies was a cemetery, known variously as Golden Gate Cemetery, City Cemetery, and Potter’s Field (then a common name for burial places of people who were indigent or unknown). Thousands were interred here, including more than 4,000 Chinese residents, as well as members of the Italian, French, Japanese, Serbian, and other ethnic communities of San Francisco. In 1909, the land was turned over to the Park Commission, and Lincoln Park, named for President Abraham Lincoln, was dedicated. A three-hole golf layout had been completed in 1902, but now plans were made for a complete 18-hole course, which was finished in 1917. For 23 years, Lincoln was the city’s only municipal golf course, and in its earliest years charged no fee.

In 1924, the Legion of Honor Museum opened in Lincoln Park. Also known as the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, this fine arts museum, dedicated to the memory of California soldiers who lost their lives in World War I, is a three-quarter scale adaptation of the Palais de la Legion d’Honneur in Paris. The building and its initial collections were funded by sugar baron Adolph Spreckels and his wife, Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, the museum’s founder. From 1992 to 1995, the museum underwent a major renovation that included seismic strengthening and the addition of six special exhibition galleries, as well as a glass pyramid skylight. During the renovation, Gold Rush-era remains and artifacts from the former cemetery were discovered still buried below the museum grounds.

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