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 3-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 3/4 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 6 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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