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Francisco Park opens, offering glorious views and a community gathering place on Russian Hill

An aerial shot of a park with the SF Bay in the background.
Francisco Park at the base of Russian Hill on opening day on April 27, 2022. | Maryann Thompson

For the third time in a single week, park-loving San Franciscans can celebrate the triumph of greenery over concrete.

This morning, Francisco Park opened on the site of a long-abandoned reservoir at the bottom of Russian Hill. The 4.5-acre site includes a expansive lawn, large play structures, a community garden, a dog park and extraordinary bay views, stretching from the Golden Gate to Aquatic Park and Alcatraz. 

More than 100 people gathered at the celebration for the first new park to open in the city’s center in nearly four decades.  

“Parks and open space play a critical role not just for recreation but for bringing the community together,” Mayor Breed said at the opening, having voted for the project eight years ago during her tenure as District 5 Supervisor.

Neighbors organized into the Francisco Park Conservancy and lobbied to transform the reservoir site into parkland. The Board of Supervisors officially kicked off the project in 2014 by authorizing SF Rec and Parks to purchase the site from the SF Public Utilities Commission for $9.9 million. The conservancy then led fundraising and directed the park’s development in partnership with the SF Recreation and Parks Department, which will now run the site.

Constructed in 1859, the reservoir carried water from Mountain Lake to downtown via flume. Rather than fill the reservoir, designers renovated it to function as a greywater system that will supply water for landscaping and bathrooms, saving the city 1.5 million gallons of potable water each year.

Mayor Breed also cut the ribbon at the new Battery Bluff park in the Presidio last Friday. Offering more stunning bay views, picnic areas and trails, the site is part of the thirty-year Presidio Parkway project that literally places green spaces atop the rebuilt route to the Golden Gate Bridge connector and unites the Presidio’s Main Post with Crissy Field. 

The two new parks combined with last night’s Board of Supervisors’ vote to keep JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park car-free are great news for many park lovers in the city. This morning, Mayor Breed answered many questions about the permanent closure.

“I’m excited that it’s permanent,” she said, remembering how much she enjoyed roller skating on JFK Drive as a child.