50 years of the GGNRA: Timeline and key places to visit


NPS park ranger, children gather and examine flowers in black and white historic photo from 1978.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) broke new ground when it was formed on Oct. 27, 1972. No other NPS units had ever been established so close to such a densely populated urban area. This proximity opened doors for people-to-park connections in the Bay Area. The Parks Conservancy is proud to help our partners at NPS build on this legacy by making parks more welcoming and inclusive to all, for generations to come.

Here's where you can get started to learn more about the history of the GGNRA: The spots that were critical to the formation of the parks and a timeline of how we got here. Dive into more history on our GGNRA page or the NPS' Golden Gate 50 page.


TENNESSEE VALLEY: The area we now know as Tennessee Valley was slated to become an expensive development called Marincello. Activists fought to protect this land and made sure that it was included in the formation of the GGNRA. Visitors can now wander through the valley from a newly improved trailhead and parking lot, marveling at all that was saved.

EAST FORT MILEY: In 1970 Amy Meyer learned the federal government was debating between building a branch of the National Archives at Fort Miley or turning it into an 8,000-acre national park unit at the Golden Gate. This possibility of a national park space in the middle of San Francisco led Amy to form People for a Golden Gate National Recreation Area, with an even larger vision of what the park could be.

CRISSY FIELD MARSH: On May 6, 2001, the NPS and Parks Conservancy unveiled the revitalized Crissy Field, reshaping San Francisco’s northern waterfront. A former concrete US Army airfield and parking lot, Crissy Field now serves as a treasured national park site and a prime example, along with the nearby Presidio Tunnel Tops, of what can be accomplished when the community, supporters, and public agencies work together.

Rangers lead a youth program at Fort Point in San Francisco in 2017.


Occupation of Alcatraz by Indians of all Tribes

Amy Meyer forms People for a Golden Gate National Recreation Area

GGNRA established, including 34,000 acres

GGNRA expands into San Mateo County, including Sweeney Ridge

Parks Conservancy is established, joining NPS in stewarding GGNRA

U.S. Air Force transfers 105 acres atop Mt. Tamalpais to NPS

Golden Gate Raptor Observatory forms

Muir Woods Visitor Center constructed

Phleger Estate in San Mateo County added to GGNRA

U.S. Army transfers all remaining parts of the Presidio to NPS

Parks Conservancy and NPS unveil revitalized Crissy Field

Crissy Field Center opens and begins youth programs

Conservancy and NPS restore 46 acres of Redwood Creek habitat

Revitalized Black Point Gardens opens to public

Presidio Tunnel Tops opens to public

SCAVENGER HUNT: Think you know these parks? Check out the NPS 50th anniversary scavenger hunt to test your knowledge!

Alex Grant

Alex Grant was an Editorial Content Specialist for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy's Marketing and Communications Team.

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