When Golden Gate Park was deeded to the people of San Francisco in 1870 it was nothing more than a very large pile of sand. Enter into the picture a very stubborn Scotsman by the name of John McLaren and voila! Twenty years later the people had a lush urban park larger than New York’s famed Central Park.
There are a number of wonderful sites within the park itself, but the one that I’ve visited most recently is the huge Victorian glass and wood arboretum known as the Conservatory of Flowers. Through the years it has withstood fires and earthquakes and was recently renovated at the tune of $25 million over four years from 1999 to 2003.
You walk into the conservatory and are instantly transported to another world. It is the Victorian flavor of the structure, juxtaposed with the most exotic of tropical plants that sends the imagination reeling. They say a small child can stand on the massive lily pads there, and when you see them, a moralistic children’s story comes to mind. “Don’t let the lily pads swallow you whole,” you can hear the authority of an adult voice pronounce, as a Madeline-type creature goes skipping across the water.
Go see it soon.—Ruth Mitchell
(c) 2006 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved