Plans for Golden Gate Park in San Francisco began in the 1860s. The area then consisted of a stretch of sand and scores of dunes. Seeking to create a west coast version of the then work-in-progress Central Park in New York City, planners in San Francisco had to begin by creating a landscape and project plan they could work with. Development of the park began in earnest in 1875 with the commissioning of thousands of trees.
Once the landscape was established, iconic buildings and man-made structures started to be built throughout the park. The Japanese Tea Garden made its debut in 1894, followed by the installation of several Dutch windmills almost a decade later. The windmills were, and still are used to circulate water throughout the park.
The 1920s brought about the building of the De Young Museum which displays art in a variety of forms. After many years of acting as home to exotic animals, the zebras, elephants, kangaroos, peacocks, and other wild creatures were sent away to more suitable housing outside of the park. However, the Bison Paddock remains to this day, housing buffalo for visitors to observe.
Golden Gate Park has suffered a number of serious weather-related encounters over the years. The infamous San Francisco earthquake in 1989 created damage to buildings and structures which demanded renovations. A storm in 1995 severely damaged the Conservatory of Flowers, causing repair work to be needed over the next eight years. Some sites undergoing repairs and renovations were not reopened until 2008.
Today, Golden Gate Park is home to several playgrounds for children, a popular merry-go-round, an aquarium, and acres of land to explore either on foot or via Segway tour. The land consists of dozens of well-maintained groves, meadows, and preserved lakes. At over 1,000 acres, Golden Gate Park is significantly larger than its inspiration Central Park. Each year, visitors enjoy the majestic beauty of the landscape, discover the culture and history residing in the buildings on the grounds, or experience the traditional public music festivals hosted by the park.