In 1865 the people of San Francisco petitioned the Board of Supervisors to set aside land for a large park or “pleasure ground”. That same year Mayor Coon commissioned Fredrick Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York to design a park for San Francisco. Though his design was not implemented, Golden Gate Park was set aside in 1869 when the Board annexed the Outside Lands, from Divisadero West.

In 1870 William Hammond Hall, 24 year old surveyor, was awarded the contract to survey Golden Gate Park and was subsequently
hired as Superintendent. In 6 years he created most of the current roadway system and planted 60,000 trees and shrubs.

Sadly, having made enemies at City Hall, “Hamm” was forced to resign 1876 and the entire Park Commission resigned as well. Pressure from the Big Four--Stanford, Hopkins, Huntington, and Crocker led to the appointment of Frank M. Pixley to the Commission in 1882. That same year the San Francisco Chronicle wrote:

“Until very recently the people of this city were felicitating themselves that Golden Gate park was rapidly being put into shape of a poor man’s pleasure ground. It seems, however, that the plan which laid out this promise is to be abandoned, and that hereafter the commissioners will devote themselves into converting the tract of land specially set aside as a breathing space for the people into an immense race track, where our bloated millionaires and owners of blooded houses can speed their animals. One of the commissioners, Mr. Pixley, has informed a Chronicle reporter
that ‘It has been virtually decided to preserve the Conservatory and the Amphitheater, and to utilize the remaining space in the Park for track and drives where blooded horses can be speeded, and to a frenzy’”.

Fortunately, public funds weren’t available in the 1880’s to realize Pixley’s dream. By April 1886, with three streetcar lines serving the park, more then 47,000 people visited the park in one day by streetcars alone. The population of the city was about 250,000 at the time.