At 312.54 acres, McLaren Park is the second largest park in San Francisco by area, after Golden Gate Park. The park is surrounded mostly by the Excelsior, Crocker-Amazon, Visitacion Valley, Portola and University Mound neighborhoods.
Dr. John Hays McLaren (1846–1943) served as superintendent of the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA for 53 years. He was friends with John Muir, and dedicated his life to vigorous advocacy and development of the 1,017-acre Golden Gate Park, one of the largest public parks in the world, using considerable political skill in addition to his remarkable gardening skill. The McLaren Park in the southern part of San Francisco is named after John McLaren, as is McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park, where he lived until his death. East Bay's Tilden Park also has a meadow named after him. A small statue of McLaren was erected in the park which he had hidden away only to be discovered after his death.
After his death at the age of 96, McLaren's body lay in state in the San Francisco City Hall Rotunda. Afterward, the funeral cortege drove his casket through Golden Gate Park as a special honor.
John McLaren Park was once a part of Rancho Cañada de Guadalupe la Visitación y Rodeo Viejo, an 1840 land grant which included much of present-day San Bruno Mountain, the city of Brisbane, Guadalupe Valley, and Visitacion Valley. The then-governor of Mexico (including present-day California), Juan Bautista Alvarado granted what is now known as John McLaren Park to the local authorities in 1840.
The Works Progress Administration was responsible for the construction of a scenic drive in the 1930s. At that time, the park also featured a stable and equestrian trails, but horseback riding within the park was later discontinued due to the difficult of maintaining a separate set of equestrian trails. The current 318-acre (129 ha) park boundaries were established in 1946.[3
Coffman Pool, McLaren Park's first recreation facility, was constructed in the southeast corner of the park in 1958. A master plan for the park was published in 1959 which called for the creation of more recreational facilities, including a 9-hole golf course (later named the Gleneagles Golf Course), overnight campsites, picnic areas, trails, two lakes, and parking areas. Before 1978, McLaren Park only had eight picnic tables.
The San Francisco Recreation Department constructed a multi-purpose outdoor amphitheatre in the center of McLaren Park in 1970 and named it the McLaren Park Amphitheatre; it officially opened in 1971 with "excellent acoustics" for the 700 seats. In 1997, it was noted the amphitheatre had not seen many shows, possibly because of the limited stage, storage facilities, dressing rooms, and parking. The first "Jerry Day" celebration was held in 2003, celebrating Excelsior native Jerry Garcia, and in July 2005, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission passed a resolution officially renaming the venue the Jerry Garcia Amphitheatre. Garcia had grown up not far from the park, at 87 Harrington Street.
Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, McLaren Park, San Francisco, CA
1.)sflinlad , 2016-08-30, "McLaren Park History [blog]”, McLaren Park Collaborative.
2.) Cindy, 2012-11-22, "Philosophers Walk on the Top of the World”, Art and Architecture SF [blog].
3.) John McLaren Park Master Plan (PDF) (Report). Recreation and Park Department, City and County of San Francisco. 1997. pg. 7.
4.) John McLaren Park Master Plan (1997), p. 17
5.)John McLaren Park Master Plan (1997), p. 16
6.)Jones, Carolyn, 2005-10-28, "EXCELSIOR / Theater gets a musical salute / McLaren Park venue is named for Jerry Garcia”, San Francisco Chronicle.