Pioneer Park is a park of 4,89 acres (19,800 m2) crowning the peak of Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. It was founded in 1876 to mark the United States Centennial. It was the site of the Marine Telegraph Station before the park was built. The key feature of the park, Coit Tower, was completed in 1933 with a $118,000 legacies left to the city by Lillie Hitchcock Coit in 1929. The bronze statue of Christopher Columbus was placed in the park in 1957 and demolished in June 2020.

After the storm destroyed the Marine Telegraph Station at the top of Telegraph Hill in 1876, George Hearst bought the property and donated it to the city under the stipulation that the land should be called "Pioneer Park." Later, acquisitions by the city significantly expanded the size of the park. An observatory and bar were designed on the property in the style of a German castle to engage the public. The company was unsuccessful and finally closed after a fire in the early 1900s. In 1902, the North Beach Improvement Society, the California Club, and the California Art League co-opted the city to protect the property. The city replied by adding roads to improve public access.

Lillie Hitchcock Coit flew by in 1924, leaving the city with $118,000. In the end, the money was used to construct the Coit Tower, the primary feature of the park.

 

The path winds up to a stunning view on the top, where Pioneer Park surrounds Coit Tower and the Telegraph Hill. Their tales are interwoven, but Pioneer Park, like the early settlers for which it is named, has had to struggle for survival. When the storm demolished the old Marine Telegraph Station, which signaled approaching ships, lots on the hilltop became commercially accessible. To protect them, a group of businessmen, including George Hearst, bought the 1,73-acre site for $12,000 in 1876 and donated it to the city, stipulating that the property would be known as Pioneer Park, after the first inhabitants of the hill. Other investments by the city greatly expanded the park and, in 1877, the Board of Supervisors appropriated $5000 for improvement, consisting of a retaining wall and limited grading.

In the 1880s, San Francisco dedicated its limited park improvement fund to Golden Gate Park, which was then under construction. Pioneer Park remained tall and dry. In order to attract public interest, a German-style castle observatory offering beer and telescope views was established on the telegraph station site. The effort floated and the building burned down in the early 1900s. The Gray Brothers Quarry was biting off the eastern side of the hill, and the downtown business interests were supplying excavated filling for Bay Tidelands and paving contracts. The Merchants Association study described Telegraph Hill as 'scarred, gasped, dismantled and forlorn.'

 

Civic clubs have jumped in to save the day. In 1902, the California Society, the North Beach Development Club, and the California Outdoor Art League joined forces to campaign for the preservation of the hill. As the road to the summit was completed in 1923, public access was made possible. In 1924, Lillie Hitchcock Coit, famous for her obsession with firefighters and firefighters, died leaving $100,000 to the community. Arthur Brown Jr., the City Hall architect, was hired to design the tower that bears his name. It was finished in 1933. Experts deny that it's modeled on a fire hose nozzle.

 

Over the last 60 years, tourism has taken the park down to the exposed roots of its trees. Drought, insufficient irrigation and foot traffic caused catastrophic erosion. Pedestrian access is minimal and there are endless lines of vehicles, their engines idling, a queue up the Telegraph Hill Boulevard. The Pioneer Park Project was born in 1995, just in time. The public-private collaboration, including Telegraph Hill Dwellers, San Francisco Stunning, the Department of Public Works and the Department of Recreation and Parking, brought together talented architects, landscape architects, designers, fund-raisers and environmental educators, all working pro bono. They have drawn up and refined plans to repair stairways, pathways and terraces, restore natural habitat, and fix the problems of flooding, protection and access to handicaps.

This amazing kid-friendly park is just one of the many must-see sights you don’t want to miss in San Francisco, California:

  • Golden Gate Park

  • Alamo Square Park

  • Mission Dolores Park

  • USS San Francisco Memorial

  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

  • Washington Square

  • Corona Heights Park

  • Lafayette Park  

All of these wonderful parks are located just a short distance from our location located at 100 Pine St #1250 in San Francisco! Stop by for a visit anytime!

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