Category Archives: Park Info

Maps, guides, reviews, facility info, history, and links to Just About Everything You’d Want To Know about McLaren Park.


San Francisco has countless spots perfect for the ’gram. From architectural gems in the Financial District to water towers in the Excelsior, the city was made for the soothing social media platform. But the most frequently Instagrammed spots (i.e., AT&T Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge) are also tourist meccas. Where do you go for a good shot that isn’t saturated with people

To see the entire list use the above link.

We’re showing the section that lists McLaren Park!

La Grande Tank

For some, even Sutro Tower is too played out. Enter the Excelsior water tower, the real landmark of locals. Officially called La Grande Tank, this Tiffany-blue water tower can be found atop McLaren Park and is one of the first things folks see as they enter the city on Interstate 280.


McLaren Park History

  • 1840 – When California was part of Mexico, land later to become parklands was part of RanchoCañada de Guadalupe la Visitación y Rodeo Viejo, granted by Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado
  • 1868-1904 – Subdivisions drawn up for development
  • 1904 – Daniel L Burnham proposes creating a multi-acre park in current site of McLaren Park & Portola District housing
  • 1926 – SF Board of Supervisors passes resolution directing land purchases to create 550 acre Mission Park in current site of McLaren Park & Portola District housing
  • 1927 – SF Board of Supervisors, SF Park Superintendent, staff & others host a celebration dedicating park to John McLaren, the city’s Superintendent of Parks; hundreds of new trees had already been planted to transform the landscape
  • 1928 – Bond initiative fails
  • 1928-1946 – City continues buying up properties for park land
  • 1932 – Park Commission reduces plan park acreage to 428 acres and again to 361 acres
  • 1939 – WPA work force completes installation of a long system of foot paths, hiking, fire, and equestrian trails, culverts, roadways and view drive. Also completes the planting of over 10,000 trees of the eucalyptus, cypress and pine varieties
  • 1944 – The Board of Supervisors recommends reducing park acreage to 241 acres; the Planning Department recommends park acreage be 413 acres
  • 1946 – From 1946 -1958 John McLaren Park’s present 318 acres created with final land purchases completed in 1958 and acreage approved by Resolution No. 5557
  • 1958 – Pool opens in southeast corner next to future Herz Playground
  • 1961 – Gleneagles 9-hole Golf Course constructed on 60 acres
  • 1963 – Mansell, Visitacion, Brazil and Persia Streets constructed
  • 1964 – Shelley Drive completed; park lake and drainage structures constructed; McNab Lake was designed as a model yacht basin using California state funds
  • 1965 – Louis Sutter and Herz Playground constructed
  • 1970 – SF Recreation Department completes construction of a multi-purpose outdoor Greek-style amphitheater
    • Amphitheater opens in 1971 providing “excellent acoustics” & seating for 700
    • Press reports amphitheater adds “a new cultural dimension to San Francisco”
  • 1971 – Tennis courts constructed
  • 1975-77 3rd, 4th, 5th SF Blues Festival held in the amphitheater
    • 1978 – SF Blues Festival outgrows amphitheater; moves to GGP Band shell, then Kezar, then Fort Mason until holding final Festival in 2008
  • 1978 – The Mansfield-Burrows Playground opens
  • 1981 – The Wilde Reservoir Overlook Tower constructed
  • 1983 – Large Group picnic area developed for 172 people; with large barbeque, built-in tables and benches, sink with running water and serving table
  • 1994 – Friends of McLaren Park/FOMP formed
    • Fiscal sponsor is SF Parks Trust
  • 1995 -Yosemite Marsh, is designated a “significant natural resource area” by the city. The marsh is the start of a creek, now covered by homes and streets, that runs down to the bay
  • 1996-1999 – SF Parks and Recreation installs ADA compliant restrooms, seating and pathways at amphitheater
    • Project removes amphitheater lighting and hillside stage electrical panels
  • 2001-2002 – Community group Friends of Crocker Amazon & Outer Mission Residents Association sells T-shirts to raise funds for Crocker Amazon’s “Purple Playground”
    • Estate of Jerry Garcia permits artwork image use for t-shirts sales as a way to support youth
    • Fiscal Sponsor is Excelsior District Improvement Association
    • T-shirts sold as the “Jerry Shirt” raises $5,000 for the playground
  • 2003 – F.A.C.E./Friends & Advocates of Crocker Amazon & the Excelsior formed as a neighborhood booster group
    • Focus: raising awareness of the neighborhood, its history & attractions
    • Motto: Having Fun in the Neighborhood
    • Neighbor Parks Council/NPC become its fiscal sponsor
  • 2003 – F.A.C.E. members create idea of a birthday celebration for Excelsior native son Jerry Garcia as a neighborhood promotion
    • August 3, 2003 – 1st “Jerry Day” celebration held
      • Hosted by F.A.C.E.
      • Attended by 50-75 people
      • Cake & Cherry Garcia ice cream served during concert
      • SF Examiner writes article about the event
  • 2005 – July 21 – Resolution Number 0507-003 passed by SF Recreation & Park Commission
    • “unnamed Greek style amphitheater in John McLaren Park…shall hereinafter be known as the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater”
  • 2005 – August – 3rd “Jerry Day” held in the newly named Jerry Garcia Amphitheater; Crowd size doubles from previous year
  • 2005 – October 29 – Official City Dedication of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater
    • Official Proclamation by Mayor Gavin Newsom
    • Master of Ceremonies: Wavy Gravy
    • Performers: The Jefferson Starship & Several Grateful Dead Tribute Bands
    • Organized by Friends of McLaren Park, F.A.C.E. with support of District 10 & 11 community members, musicians and artists
    • 2005 – F.A.C.E. member Tom Murphy elects to solely organize & promote annual “Jerry Day” concerts
  • 2006 – SF Parks Trust becomes “Jerry Day” fiscal sponsor
  • 2008 – July 15 – Friends of McLaren Park/FOMP holds preliminary meeting to form Friends of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater
  • 2009 – November 7 – D11 Supvr. John Avalos convenes McLaren Park community meeting to promote the park and Jerry Garcia Amphitheater
    • December 6 McLaren Park Festival planning meeting held
    • Meetings continue through December & January/February 2010
  • 2010 – January, March, May – SF Recreation & Parks Department holds 3 Community McLaren Park Needs Assessment meetings
  • 2010 – February 11 – F.A.C.E. and Friends of McLaren Park form “Friends of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater/Friends of JG A”
    • McLaren Park Festival planning meetings on event fees take place with SF Park & Recreation Permit Department & SF Parks Trust
    • Amphitheater Summer concert series planned
    • Friends of JG Amp/FOJGA work at 2 “Radio Alice’s Summerthing” Concerts in GG Park to raise money to lower permit fees
  • 2010 – June 15 – Draft plans started for an amphitheater “Docent Program”
  • 2010 – July – Plans scrapped to hold McLaren Park Festival due to high fee structure
  • 2010 – December – F.A.C.E. sets meeting dates with Neighborhood Parks Council/NPC to discuss fiscal sponsorship of new umbrella group of neighbors and McLaren Park groups to be called the “McLaren Park Council”
  • 2011 – Newly-formed group called “McLaren Park Collaborative” begins meetings
  • 2011 – May – JG Amp meetings continue on permit fees with NPC & RPD Permits department
  • 2011 – October – SF Parks Alliance created from the merger of Neighborhood Parks Council & SF Parks Trust
  • 2012 – February – SF Parks Alliance sign fiscal contract for “Friends of the AMP/Amphitheater at McLaren Park” (renamed from Friends of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater)
  • 2012 – June – Friends of the AMP plan a “2013 Jerry Garcia Amphitheater Music Festival” & initiates Docent Program
  • 2012 – November – Friends of the AMP co-founders Linda D’Avirro/Linda Litehiser attend meeting with RPD GM Phil Ginsberg & Dahlia Khoury discussing possible RPD/Levitt Pavilion proposal for the amphitheater
  • 2013 – Gleneagles Golf Course signs nine-year lease extension and initiates pre-apprentice gardener program with Local 261
  • 2013 – Mansell Corridor Project receives $1.7M in One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) funding, bringing a total of $5.1M in transportation funds for the project.
  • 2013 – June
    •  Friends of the AMP plan “Saturday in the Park McLaren” fall concert series
    • Creates  Docent Manual, detailed Safety Program & full concert series design/programming/dates
    • SF Parks Alliance awards small $2k grant to initiate Docent Program
    • D9, D10, D11 Supervisors contribute $5k each in add-back funds to defray concert series costs
    • SF RPD puts full support behind concert
      • SF RPD Permits Dept. lowers fees
      • Provides PR & printing support
      • Videotaped October 12 concert
      • Asks Friends of AMP to set dates for 2014 amphitheater concert series
  • 2013 – September
    • 1st McLaren Park Mountain Bike Festival – September 7th attracts over 300 participants
    • Levitt Pavilion withdraws proposal; seeks larger venue
    • 1st Saturday in the Park McLaren 6 concert series held
  • 2013 – October
    • Saturday in the Park 2014 concert dates submitted to RPD Permits Department
    • Newly refurbished and improved Peru/Burrows Playground opens
  • 2014 – September – October
    • SF Shakes performs 5 shows of “The Taming of the Shrew”
    • 2nd Saturday in the Park McLaren 7-concert series held
  • 2015 – September-October
    • SF Shakes performs 5 shows of “Romeo and Juliet”
    • 3rd Saturday in the Park McLaren 4-concert series held
  • 2015 – November – Mansell Corridor Project Groundbreaking Celebration held
  • 2016 – June-October
    • Annual Help McLaren Park Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser held in the Louis Sutter Roundhouse
    • SF Shakes performs 5 shows of “Winter’s Tale”
    • Saturday in the Park McLaren presents its 4th 6-concert series
  • 2017 – February – Mansell Corridor reopens as a pedestrian and bike-friendly roadway separating the roadway
  • 2017 – June – Annual Help McLaren Park Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser held in the Louis Sutter Roundhouse
  • 2017 – August – October
    • SF Shakes performs 5 shows of “Hamlet”
    • 5th Saturday in the Park McLaren holds its 6-concert series
  • 2017 – November – The SF Recreation and Parks Commission approves RPD’s Tier 1 Project Plan as part of the overall McLaren Park Visioning Plan
  • 2018 – In the Amphitheater:
    • Jerry Day concertgoers exceed 2,000
    • SF Shakes performs 5 shows of “Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • Sundown Cinema presents “Sing-Along Grease” movie
    • 6th Saturday in the Park McLaren holds its 6-concert series held; Renames its series as “Live From the AMP”
  • 2019 – Work begins on the Group Picnic Area & new playground and restroom
  • 2019 – In the Amphitheater:
    • SF Shakes performs 6 shows of “As You Like It”
    • Sundown Cinema present “Bohemian Rhapsody” movie
    • Do the Bay presents a 3-concert “Due South” series
    • “Live From the AMP” presents its 3-concert series

New Field Guide For McLaren Park’s Flora And Fauna


Save McLaren Park announces a new comprehensive electronic field guide to the plants and animals of the City’s second-largest park! It is based on iNaturalist crowdsourcing software for biological observations, and describes over 300 reported species within the park’s boundaries.


Maps are provided to locate each species in the park, and custom field guides may be printed or shared via PDF files – perfect for school field trips and nature walks! You can even search for species via your mobile web connection. See the “more” link at the top of the page for details on how to use the field guide, and for links to more park information.