The Presidio: From Army Post to National Park

A bit windbaggy on the myriad of details about national park status, but some good summing up of history. Jotting some details I want to remember here:

  • President Millard Fillmore proposed the Presidio boundaries to start at Fisherman’s Wharf, encompassing much of what would end up being the Marina and the Richmond. (10,000 acres proposed, 2,500 acres actually earmarked)
  • The 12 officers’ cottages built in 1862 originally had their outhouses facing the city. In the 1870s the houses were flipped around to present a nicer face for visitors coming from SF.
  • The Presidio was always an “open” fort, not requiring guarded entrances except during WW2, fearing Japanese submarine attacks.
  • We can thank Phil Burton for his efforts, once again. The Presidio was included within the boundaries of GGNRA in 1972, guaranteeing that once the fort was decommissioned, it would be protected from development.
  • Once the Army did decide to close the Presidio, local politicians (Barbara Boxer & Nancy Pelosi) lobbied against the military closure for economic reasons.
  • There was a lot of pressure over the years to develop this beautiful piece of land. Local papers dubbed it the Idle Acres in an effort to drum up support for development at the same time that the idea of building a skyscraper or casino on Alcatraz was floated.
  • In 1994 the Army appeared to want to reneg on the agreement to some extent, demanding to keep several hundred units of housing, the commissary, swimming pool, Officers’ Club, and retaining exclusive use of the golf course. Negotiations on this point lasted a year and ended up with the Army getting control of the golf course for 5 years with phasing in of public play.
  • Truman wanted to build the UN Headquarters in the Presidio but the Soviets were against a West Coast location.