Crissy Field is seen before its transformation from concrete to urban oasis, seen here in a 1997 file photo.

Crissy Field then and now: Interactives show transformation from concrete to beloved parklands

From Park E-ventures, October 2018

By Peter Hockaday
Editorial Director

Did you know Crissy Field was once a concrete parking lot? Hard to believe, but about 20 years ago, the beloved San Francisco park was in disrepair. Through the hard work of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service, the park was transformed into an urban oasis.

See that transformation unfold in front of your eyes with our sliders below! Just click in the middle of the image and drag from one side to the other to see then vs. now.

As you can tell, the change was staggering. More than 3,000 volunteers helped completely overhaul the area. The most visible changes included the greening of the former concrete airfield, the cleanup of East Beach, and the restoration of Crissy Marsh.

At the marsh, 230,000 cubic yards of soil was removed to create habitat for great blue heron, snowy egrets, crabs, fish, and more than 50 species of plants and animals. That’s all a throwback to its original marshland glory, before it was filled in by early Spanish settlers and for the Panama–Pacific International Exposition of 1915. It then became a parking lot for the Presidio U.S. Army base, which you can see here:

The transformation of Crissy Field was truly a community effort. Through the public "Help Grow Crissy Field" campaign, the Parks Conservancy raised $34.4 million; of 2,300 donations, 2,200 were $100 or less. The campaign was led by the vision and leadership gifts of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

After "then" and "now," we collectively look to what’s "next" for Crissy Field. The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the National Park Service, and the Presidio Trust are currently seeking input and feedback for possible future enhancements to the area via Crissy Field Next. Learn more about this exciting opportunity by reading our story on Crissy Field Next or by visiting the project site.

Make sure to join us for Crissy Field Day on Saturday, October 20, to kick it all off. We’ll be celebrating the park with music, fun, and your ideas for its future. Learn more and RSVP for a chance to win a special prize!

Crissy Field has seen many different iterations through the decades. It’s been two decades since its most dramatic transformation, and more is in store. But it’s still one of the most beautiful places in all of San Francisco, and will be for decades to come.

"After" photos from Crissy Field by Paul Myers / Parks Conservancy. "Before" aerial image courtesy NPS Archives, "after" aerial courtesy Google Maps.

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