Cypress and ammophila grass • Plowing dunes circa 1871
When the city leaders selected the “Outside Lands” for a grand city park, over two-thirds of the area was a wild landscape of shifting sand dunes buffeted by winds off the Pacific. San Francisco wasn’t much of a city before the gold rush of 1849, but by 1870 it was a boomtown and people recognized the need for a city park. They wanted something like Central Park in New York City, but when they consulted with its creator, famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, he said the site was unsuitable. His advice was ignored.
Images courtesy of Helen Crocker Russell Library