The roots of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department stretch back to the 1870s, when city officials, responding to residents’ demands for a large public park, established a Park Commission to oversee the development of Golden Gate Park. Over the years, many more parks were added to the system, and playgrounds, athletic fields, and recreational facilities were developed under the auspices of the Recreation Commission. In 1950, the two commissions were merged, and the modern Recreation and Park Department was born.
Today the department, overseen by the Recreation and Park Commission, administers more than 220 parks, playgrounds, and open spaces, including two outside the city limits. The system includes 25 recreation centers, nine swimming pools, five golf courses and numerous tennis courts, ball diamonds, soccer fields and other sports venues. Included in the department’s responsibilities are the Marina Yacht Harbor, Candlestick Park, the San Francisco Zoo, and the Lake Merced Complex.
The Recreation and Park Department employs about 850 people, from gardeners, foresters, and recreation leaders to park patrol officers, custodians, electricians, painters, and more. Our mission today, as it has been throughout our history, is to provide opportunities for San Francisco residents and visitors alike to gather, play, learn, relax, and enjoy nature throughout the city.