San Francisco's Newest Park Used to Be a Highway

Presidio Tunnel Tops has been more than a decade in the making

Drone photograph of highway 101 with a a large park covering a portion of the highway

Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations

After 20 long years, the transformation of the San Francisco Presidio waterfront was completed with the opening of a brand new park. Opened to the public as of July 17, Presidio Tunnel Tops is a 14-acre expanse of greenery and walking paths that reconnects a park divided by the 101 highway.

The $118 million project joins the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a diverse collection of 37 sites around the Bay Area that got more than 15 million visitors in 2021. Designed by the same team that transformed the High Line in New York City, the new park is built on top of a major highway, a feat that took seven years to complete.

Presidio Tunnel Tops features 1.8 miles of paths, a play area, 200,000 plants, plenty of seating, and dozens of food vendors "celebrating the Bay Area's diverse cultures and cuisines." That's on top of rotating art installations—the first is by local artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez—and an impressive slate of free, family-friendly events lasting until October.

Metal sculpture of a horned animal with the golden gate bridge in the background

Courtesy of Ryan White, Parks Conservancy

Park programming was designed with the surrounding community in mind, especially BIPOC visitors. To make those communities feel welcome in the park, the Presidio Activator Council helped to craft an events schedule that "keeps those communities in mind and makes people feel like they’re truly wanted, and they’re not an after-thought," said Kaushik Roy, Presidio activator and executive director of the Shanti Project.

Visitors can look forward to the first Sunday festivals with a DJ and food vendors, fireside talks with a National Park Service ranger where you can learn about the area's history, and cultural events like a Korean Chuseok festival. And that list is guaranteed to grow in the coming months.

Presidio Tunnel Tops will be open daily and is free. Even better, it's accessible by public transportation, so a car isn't necessary to visit.

Article Sources
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  1. National Park Service. "Golden Gate National Recreation Area remained very popular with visitors in 2021." Feb. 18, 2022.

  2. Presidio Tunnel Tops. "Fast Facts." Accessed July 18, 2022.

  3. Presidio Tunnel Tops. "Food." Accessed July 18, 2022.

  4. Presidio Tunnel Tops. "Presidio Tunnel Tops Opening Season Is Unveiled." June 30, 2022.

  5. Presidio Tunnel Tops. "Presidio Tunnel Tops Opening Season is Unveiled." Accessed July 18, 2022.