Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Lawn, The Creek & The Palace

Tourists as well as locals often overlook the most incredible sights in San Francisco in favor of tired cliches on the overly-beaten path. Lately, my favorite such place in The City is the vast and evolving environs of The Presidio, an historic military outpost spread over nearly three square miles situated at The Golden Gate, guarding interests under Mexican, Spanish, and American flags since 1776.
I'll take a look at The Presidio over the course of a few posts. This one is dedicated to the easternmost zone by the Lombard Gate and The Palace of Fine Arts where The Presidio meets Crissy Field and the Marina District.
The photo below shows The Letterman Army Medical Center,  area viewed from above circa 1972. The parking lot is now a wonderful parkland with a creek, a pond, and extremely inviting landscaping overlooking the Palace of Fine Arts.
You Are Here: 1972
Since the early 1990s when The Presidio was given over to civilian use and decommissioned as a military installation, the gradual changes have transformed this place once a machine for war into one of the most spectacular urban parks in America, one that even San Franciscans seem slow to acknowledge. Over 400 historical structures are in the process of revitalization as well as a few new schemes like the conversion of the old military hospital into the Letterman Digital Arts campus.
Here's the same site as the one in the 70s vintage photograph above as it appears today.

The Lawn, The Creek & The Palace
The reuse of the site for digital animation is an interesting, contemporary conversion. The grounds feature a few nods to the history of cinema. Here's the Eadweard James Muybridge Memorial honoring the notable San Franciscan who is one of the godfathers of motion pictures.
The Eadweard James Muybridge Memorial
A part of the Letterman campus includes Industrial Light & Magic, the visual effects company founded by George Lucas, whose patron saint, Yoda, guards the front entrance.
Yoda Gate

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