Washington Square is a park in San Francisco, California's North Beach Area. It was built in 1847 and is one of the first parks in the city. The park is bordered by sidewalk cafés and restaurants such as the Mama's (restaurant), the Park Tavern Restaurant and the Liguria Bakery and the Sts. The Church of Peter and Paul. The Square is a natural community meeting place with a long history. Festivals, free movie nights and other special activities are held during the year.

Washington Square Park, now the heart of North Beach, has been a lot of stuff over the years. Juana Briones grew potatoes and herded cattle here, until Jasper O'Farrell set up the San Francisco Street Grid in 1847, and made this block a town square. Later, abandoned by the area, it was used as an unofficial dump bordering the cemetery. Improvements came slowly, but in the 1860s, they were used to celebrate the fourth of July, and later the square hosted Columbus Day festivities and Italian festivals.

 

Originally, it was a rectangle, all the way to Powell Street. In 1873–75, however, the City constructed Columbus Road, then known as Montgomery, which cut across the square. The avenue was designed, obviously, because the financial district's business and banking interests wanted greater contact with North Beach, which was separated geographically from the hills, the Barbary Coast and Chinatown.

The park, the square, Il Giardino. It was named The Garden by the Italians. Washington Square is a lot of stuff. To others, it's a green village. For others, it's the front lawn of Sts Peter and Paul's Church. It's a haven to some. Go out of the Stockton Street Post Office, and look up. A huge tree tower rivals the spirits of the cathedral, in mass and height and nearness to the sky. Consider the 10 giant pines on the intersection of Filbert Street and Columbus Avenue. Their soft and vaulted canopy is a chapel that covers the playground.

 

Old timers who watched the park say Washington Square never looked as majestic as it is today. Tom O'Connor, the City Gardener, has been enjoying the lawn, the flowerbeds and the dirt around the trees.

 

It's a good time to be beautiful. This is Washington Square year. In its 150th year, the Hill Dwellers celebrate the heart of North Beach and their achievement in persuading the City of its historical importance and the need to protect it from destruction.

 

Washington Square is now a staple in San Francisco. This is due to more than two years of hard work by the Hill Dwellers – headed by Aaron Peskin and the Board of Directors – and hundreds of hours of research and photography, meetings, letters and presentations to city officials in a variety of departments.

 

In 1850, San Francisco's first mayor, John W. Geary, proclaimed the land a public square. It was first cultivated by prisoners who gradated the land and watered the grass. But it became a haphazard graveyard and a goat pasture in the early 1850s. Then there was an unofficial dump and a stonemason's work site. Then it became a typical Eastern model, a public square, crisscrossed by an unpaved X, carved by people walking through as quickly as possible. It was also the easiest way for people on horseback to get from Union Street to Filbert Street. Riders were finally stopped by constructing a ditch on one side and a low wall on the other.

 

Originally, it was a rectangle, all the way to Powell Street. In 1873-1875, however, the City constructed Columbus Avenue, then known as Montgomery, which cut across the square. The avenue was designed, obviously, because the financial district's business and banking interests wanted greater contact with North Beach, which was separated geographically from the hills, the Barbary Coast and Chinatown.

 

The tiny park on Powell Street is now called Marini Plaza. Frank Marini (1862-1952) is frequently listed in Alessandro Baccari's book, "Saints Peter and Paul: 'Italian Cathedral' of the West, 1884-1984." Marini was a significant civic benefactor, participating in the work of the Salesian groups in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. He was a sponsor of the boys' club to support troubled immigrant boys who had no English speaking skills, schooling, or guidance. He was a fundraiser to pay off his debt to establish a church and a Salesian school. He gave the money to build a gymnasium at St. Francis Church, Vallejo Lane, for church-sponsored basketball teams. Washington Square was a place of refuge for many fires on Telegraph Hill, particularly in 1894 and 1901. It was home for a year to some 600 people living in wooden barracks and army tents after the earthquake and fire of 1906.

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

  • Pioneer Park

  • 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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San Francisco Location: 100 Pine St #1250, San Francisco, CA 94111 (415) 489-0890