Panhandle (San Francisco)

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Panhandle
Panhandle.JPG
The Panhandle from Clayton Street
Type Municipal (San Francisco)
Location San Francisco
Created 1870
Status Open all year

The Panhandle is a park in San Francisco, California that forms a panhandle with Golden Gate Park. It is long and narrow, being three-quarters of a mile long and one block wide. Fell Street borders it to the north, Oak Street to the south, and Baker Street to the east. Only two streets run through it, Stanyan Street at the western end between it and Golden Gate Park, and Masonic Avenue through the middle. Two paved walking paths run through it from Golden Gate Park to Baker Street, one allowing bicycles. There are basketball courts,[1] a public restroom and a playground in the section between Stanyan Street and Masonic Avenue.

The William McKinley Monument is at the foot of the park, facing the DMV across Baker Street. It was dedicated in 1904 by President Theodore Roosevelt, who succeeded McKinley after his assassination in 1901.[citation needed]

The park forms the southern boundary of the Western Addition neighborhood and the northern boundary of the Haight-Ashbury. At least from the 1990s if not before, the area north of the panhandle, bounded by Divisadero, Fell, Turk, and Masonic Streets, has been termed North Panhandle, North of the Panhandle, or, more colloquially, NoPa.

History[edit]

An 1853 map of San Francisco labels the area that the Panhandle and Golden Gate Park presently occupy the "Great Sand Bank". In 1870, the Panhandle's footprint occupied large, shifting sand-dunes with little vegetation in between it and the Pacific Ocean known as the "Outside Lands". The large hills of sand, semi-arid conditions, and powerful winds generated by the Golden Gate effect conspired to make agriculture and gardening nearly impossible—except for in a few small valleys protected from the constant winds.

William Hammond Hall's long-term plan to create a vast recreational park in San Francisco was first implemented in The Panhandle in 1870, which became part of Hall's experimental laboratory for finding suitable vegetation for reclaiming the dunes. After much trial and error, Hall found that by first planting barley - followed months later by sea bent grass mixed with yellow lupin - the sand dunes could be stabilized enough to dump manure and top-soil without risk of wind-erosion. On top of this layer, Monterey Pines, Monterey Cypresses and Eucalyptus—all known for quick growth and shallow root structures—could take root.

After Hall tamed the dunes, the Panhandle was ready to accept planting of hundreds of tree varietals, representing regions from all over the world, including such species as Bailey's Acacia, Japanese Yew, Black Walnut, Blackwood Acacia, Queensland Kauri, and Italian Alder. The land in and around the Panhandle has been so completely transformed by 100+ years of irrigation and development that the sandy, unstable ground beneath is no longer apparent.

In 1899, a proposal was considered for an extension of the Panhandle park all the way towards Van Ness Avenue and Market Street.[2]

In the 1950s, a freeway was proposed that would have run through the Panhandle, taking the place of a road running through the park known as The Avenue Drive,[3][4][5] but due to a citizen freeway revolt it was canceled; the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in 1959 and again in 1966 against building the Panhandle freeway.[6] Instead, the road through the Panhandle was removed entirely and the streets on either side of it were turned into wide, one-way streets, with traffic lights timed to allow cars to move continuously at 20 (formerly 25) miles per hour. Similar pairs of rapid through-streets exist throughout San Francisco.

In late 2012 final approval was secured and construction began on the Fell and Oak Street Bikeways, which when completed will add three blocks of one-way cycle track on both Fell and Oak Streets from the eastern end of the Panhandle at Baker Street to Scott Street, connecting the Panhandle to the Wiggle. Fell Street previously had a narrow bicycle lane wedged in between parked cars and fast-moving vehicular traffic, while Oak Street had no bicycle facilities at all. The project, which also includes pedestrian safety improvements such as sidewalk extensions and bulbouts, will be accomplished by removing all parking from the south side of both streets. Construction is expected to be complete by spring 2013.[7][8]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°46′19″N 122°27′00″W / 37.772°N 122.450°W / 37.772; -122.450 (The Panhandle)