Crissy Field is a stunning park site located within the Golden Gate National Parks. Crissy Field is 100 acres of wild, windswept shoreline that has become one of the country’s most popular and beautiful urban walks, with panoramic views on both directions. It is also a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. People come here to enjoy the beaches, promenade and recreation opportunities.
Once considered as a major dumping ground, Crissy Field has been transformed into spectacular national parkland. The site is included within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Presidio of San Francisco.
Crissy Field has a history that is rich and varied. This landscape design has several widely divergent goals, including restoring a naturally functional wet land as a habitat for flora and fauna, restoring a historical grass airfield and expanding and widening recreational opportunities to a broader number of residents and visitors to the Presidio. Up until the late 1700’s, Crissy Field was a pristine salt marsh used by Native Americans as an area to harvest shellfish. Later on, the area was taken over by the U.S. Army, and the tidal wetland was converted as wasteland for dumping and draining. Later on this dumping ground functioned as a culturally significant military airfield between 1919 and 1936.
In the early years, the Field was mainly used for viewing artillery firing, aerial photography and special civilian missions. Although the area was considered ideal for air operations, there were several factors (excessive wind and fog hampering the flying conditions and construction of Golden Gate Bridge affecting the local flights) that led to the closure of the U.S. airfield.
In 1994, after the Crissy Field was closed, the National Park Service took up the control of the area and cleaned it up. This beautiful landscape opened to the public in 2001.
Restoration of Crissy Field
Crissy Field is a shining example of what revitalization and restoration can do for a destination. It is hard to believe that airplanes once landed where native grass now grows or that piles of concrete or asphalt once covered the 18 acre tidal marsh. Once declared as a derelict concrete wasteland by the National Park Service, the land was restored by environment monitoring and with the help of Golden Gates National Park Conservancy.
The charge of restoration was given to the Hargreaves Associates San Francisco Landscape Architecture firm. As part of site restoration effort from 1998 to 2000, individuals and groups from schools, colleges, corporations and civic organizations put in more than 100,000 native plants to help restore natural beauty at Crissy Fields. The newly restored Crissy Field consists of rebuilt sidewalks, boardwalks and trails.
Today, Crissy Field has become an urban national park, and is quite popular among both residents and tourists. The site reflects the grandeur and the beauty that surrounds it. There are plenty of activities that you can indulge in- such as strolling along the promenade, having day picnic with family, checking out the meadows and marshes, signing up for a stimulating program or just sitting and enjoying the spectacular views of Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. The new restored tidal wetlands are now home to more than 17 fish species and 135 species of birds. The native vegetation around the tidal marsh provides views of wild life.
Crissy Field Center is an environmental education center that organizes several camps, programs and educational activities for school kids and youth. There are several walking and biking tours organized by the community. Most of these programs are free of cost, or at a low cost.
When you become tired of strolling across the shoreline you can take rest at the Warming Hut. Warming Hut is a terrific café at the western end of Crissy Field. It is a favorite spot for families, strollers, bikers and tourists. Here you can get fresh delicious food made from organic or local produce.
Location and Hours
Crissy Field is located at 1199 East Beach Dr in San Francisco, California. It is open Monday through Sunday from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. There is not fee to enter the area.