Sunday, March 7, 2010

The "Avenue of Approach" to Golden Gate Park: the Panhandle's Wide-Open Spaces

View East from Masonic Avenue

And to the West from Masonic Avenue

Sometimes it's a relief to step back and get a different perspective. Take, for example, the Panhandle Park and its multiple-use path on the north side and the walking/jogging trail on the south side. Both need better design and maintenance, and the intersections with Masonic Avenue remain risky for bicyclists and pedestrians. But step back from the congestion -- and mud -- of the paths and take a look at the center of the Panhandle, an open urban oasis. Walk along Masonic between Fell and Oak Streets and gaze in either direction. Notice that fewer 100 year old trees are in the center of the park.

Originally the Panhandle served as the promenade entrance to Golden Gate Park with a carriage road meandering down the middle of the long strip of terrain extending from Baker Street to Stanyan Street. Three quarters of a mile long and a block wide, the Panhandle was first referred to as the "avenue of approach." In a "Park History" , an 1870 map refers to "Golden Gate Park and Avenue." The configuration of a roadway down the middle of the Panhandle continued until about 1940 when the roadway was removed for open space.

From 1870 to 1940 a carriage roadway meandered through the center of the Panhandle

After 1940 the Panhandle no longer featured a roadway

A consideration: how well did the Panhandle's "avenue of approach" handle both carriages and bicycles, especially during the bicycle craze of the 1890s? And how did bicyclists and pedestrians fare in later years as the automobile began to dominate city streets and roads? Or don't go there at all and just appreciate the beauty of our "neighborhood park."

1 comment:

  1. isn;t lovely how the horses have turned into bikes, and all of us gallop through for pleasure or business, he heee :D
    nice post. i hearts the panhandle