On the far western edge of Golden Gate Park stand two wooden windmills that were built to pump groundwater for irrigating the park’s lawns and gardens, helping to transform the dunes that once covered the area. After lobbying by Park Superintendent John McLaren and others, the North, or Dutch, Windmill was built in 1902. It was such a success that it was followed by the South, or Murphy, Windmill, begun in 1905 and completed in 1907 after delays caused by the 1906 earthquake.
Motorized pumps were first installed in the Dutch Windmill in 1913 to augment the power system, and the Murphy Windmill was electrified soon after. It is commonly believed that the windmills were taken out of service around 1935, after which they began to deteriorate. Cosmetic repairs to the Dutch Windmill were completed in 1980. After an extensive renovation, the Murphy Windmill began functioning again in 2012. Visitors can see its sails turn Saturday afternoons, weather permitting.