This is such a romantic structure--soaring columns, fine details and classic in design. We felt as though we were exploring an exotic ruin, rather than a San Francisco beauty.
Exposed to the elements, the Palace of Fine Arts was in need of repair by the 1950's. It had endured well beyond the years expected and had become beloved to many.
Finally, Philanthropist Walter S. Johnson stepped up to lead the drive to restore this magnificent structure.
Exact molds were made of the intricate design elements, which had been carefully removed. Concrete castings of the rotunda and colonnades were duplicated and the steel framework retained.
Work progressed until finally on September, 1967, a "stripped down" version of the palace was presented to the public, then finally a more complete version in 1975.
As we marveled at the beauty of this structure, we were gratified to learn that there is a 1000 seat Fine Arts Palace theatre and the EXPLORATORIUM, a hands on science center.
Following a visit to the Japanese Tea Garden, a short walk led us to the M.H. DeYoung Memorial Museum.
This brand new multi-million dollar building clad in perforated copper sheets was completed in 2005. It replaces the original building, constructed in the late 1800's which was destroyed by the 1989 earthquake.
Designers were Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron of Switzerland; architects were Fong and Chan, of San Francisco.
The design is such that it allows the surrounding outdoor environment to reflect through the expansive windows.
FYI: The DeYoung Museum focuses primarily on art of the Americas, Oceania and Africa.
Across the way, the Bandshell overlooks a green space. (picture 4). It was donated to the city by the Spreckles family and is a lovely venue for music events held here.
Although we didn't have time to tour the museum, we took an elevator to the top of the education tower for great views of the area and grounds, for which there was no charge (pictures 2 & 3).
Please see website below for hours and admission costs for a complete tour of the museum and its exhibitions.
I think Japanese Tea Gardens exude tranquility, don't you? The winding pathways, footbridges and ponds teeming with koi make these gardens a pleasure to visit. So it is with Golden Gate's Japanese Tea Garden.
This serene gardenscape accented with vivid red Pagodas and Japanese inspired sculpture is a place of peaceful contemplation. Even with the hoards of visitors that stop by to enjoy its beauty.
The garden was created and overseen by Maokota Hagiwara and his family. It was lovingly tended until WWII, which led to the internment of this family. Through the years, this garden has become a respite from the busyness of San Francisco streets.
picture #2 gardenscape
picture #3 footbridge
picture #4 reflecting pool
FYI: The Hagiwaras contributed a unique tradition to Japanese dining: the fortune cookie
Golden Gate Park is a huge park located at Northwest San Francisco.
I like this park because unlike the most famous park in the US, the Central park, when you are inside you cannot see the skyscrapers and buildings in the city. Thus you can totally relax and detach from the chaos and the hectic modern living.
There are a lot to do at the park: you can of course jog, picnic and do the usual park-things but there are also attractions worth seeing including the Japanese garden, the conservatory, and de Young museum of fine arts.
I spent half a day at the park but if you like nature you can spend the whole day - a truly great way to relax and detach.
A paved walkway wound throughout the gardens, taking visitors up a gentle knoll and down, around a gnarled tree, past the still waters and sometimes to unanticipated breaks in the landscape (pictures 2 & 3).
When you emerge from the lush plantings and little hidden spaces, you'll soon come across this hefty bronze Buddha. He sits to one side of the pathway, beneath a leafy bower of trees.
The piece was cast in 1790 in Japan and is named, Buddha Who Sits Through Sun and Rain Without Shelter, which seems very appropriate!
This striking structure is The Palace of Fine Arts, one of many interesting sites within lovely Golden Gate Park. It was built for a special exposition...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
In 1906 a devastating earthquake had ravaged this beautiful city and San Francisco had to be rebuilt.
Near the same time, the amazing Panama Canal opened to the world's shipping industry. In honor of this event, a Panama-Pacific International Exposition was planned in 1915. It was the perfect way to reintroduce San Francisco to the world!
Construction for the exposition was nearly complete; the final building was the Palace of Fine Arts, designed by Bernard Maybeck and erected to display exquisite art for the world's visitors to admire.
pictures 2 & 3 Views of its classic design
By tradition, none of the buildings were meant to last beyond a year's time. The Palace of Fine Arts was constructed with this in mind. The columns were framed in wood and covered with a mixture of plaster and burlap-type fiber. It was the largest building to use this type of construction. Durability was not in the picture.
For a low cost, relaxing day in San Francisco, take a bus out to Golden Gate Park in the western suburbs. This surprisingly extensive park is home to a beautiful Japanese garden with a popular tea-house that you have to queue for if you want to sit and sip tea in a picture postcard setting, while tourists gawk and take photos of you. To enter the Japanese garden you must pay a small fee of about US$3.50 from memory. The Strybing Arbouretum is located in the park too, and makes a really interesting stroll. There is a section of the arbouretum dedicated to trees from New Zealand. Watching squirrels play in a pohutukawa tree is a strange experience!
Take a picnic lunch and enjoy a sunny day in the peaceful surrounds of Golden Gate Park.
Golden Gate Park is larger than New York's Central Park and is considered the third most visited city park in America after Central Park and Lincoln Park in Chicago. The park was created in the 1870s and has been continually upgraded and developed while maintaining a very peaceful, serene natural environment. During my visit I walked a few of the trails on the north side of the park around Lloyd Lake then took a driving tour of the entire park perimeter stopping at various sites such as the Conservatory of Flowers, the Windmill and Tulip Gardens, the Stow Lake Drive, and the Music Concourse Area. Unfortunately I arrived in the early evening when the Japanese Tea Gardens were closed. The Park is also home to the De Young Museum, the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, the AIDS Memorial Grove, Spreckels Lake, various athletic fields, and a herd of bison. Throughout the year the park holds a variety of events including numerous 5k and 10k runs, charity walks, concerts, and art exhibits.
There is a lot of parking along all of the park's roads with a four-hour limit, but you can also use the garage at 10th and Fulton at an expensive $2.50 to $3 per hour.
If you approach Golden Gate Park from the east (from around Market St), you pass through this delightful little "panhandle" area, a strip of greenery with footpaths. Think of it as an appetizer before the main course.
In the middle of Golden Gate Park is the Music Concourse. This formally landscaped garden is the site of live music performances, and has some fine sculpture. It also includes the Shakespeare Garden. It has over 100 different plants, each mentioned in one of the Bard's plays.
Walking across Golden Gate Park, heading west, one passes the Conservatory of Flowers, the Music Concourse, California Academy of Sciences, Japanese Tea Garden, Stow Lake, and the Strybing Arboretum. Farther on is a polo field, a chain of small lakes, and a golf course. Beyond the golf course is a windmill, built in 1903 to pump water for irrigation. It's surrounded by tulip gardens, a gift from the Dutch people. Beyond that is the end of the park, across the street from Ocean Beach.
It takes several hours to hike all the way from one end of the park to the other. It's a long hike, but so beautiful that you don't notice being tired.
This greenhouse in San Francisco's famous Golden Gate Park is a must-see for anyone with an interest in horticulture. Built in 1879, it is the oldest public conservatory in the Western Hemisphere. It contains examples of plants from various climes around the world.
This is one of the highlights of Golden Gate Park. It's an outstanding example of a Japanese-style garden, with its economical use of space and the blending of architecture and nature. The place seems much larger than it actually is, and makes people forget the outside world for a while.
There are many trails as well as thematic gardens at Golden Gate Park.
My favorites are the Japanese Garden and the cacti garden. There is also a windmill but not sure where it came from. The whole park is great place to stop and smell the flowers.
Golden Gate Park is an under-rated tourist destination. You can enjoy driving, bicycling or walking around on a nice day and even have a picnic.
Enjoyed the wildlife exhibit and live enclosures of the California Academy of Sciences.
There is an impressive and complete collections of pottery and metalware of all the dynasties of China in the Asian Art Museum. Not to be missed by those who are into China.
A easy great get-away from the city noise and traffic.