Saturday, April 28, 2012

San Francisco's "Lands End" Unveils New Visitor Center

The National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, today unveiled the Lands End Lookout, the newest visitor center within the Golden Gate National Parks. Located along San Francisco’s rugged Pacific coast, the new 4,150-square-foot “green” visitor center sits directly above the former Sutro Baths at the northwest edge of the City, and features a museum store, café, and educational and interpretive exhibits highlighting the natural landscape and cultural history of this remarkable site.

Open daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, the new Lookout presents visitors with stunning 30-mile views of the California coast, and provides the opportunity to explore the natural and cultural history of this beloved park site. The new Lands End visitor experience includes:

Interactive Displays and Panels: Visitors will learn about the coast’s geology, the original inhabitants of Lands End, the Yelamu (Ohlone) tribe, Adolph Sutro’s role in developing this part of the City in the 1880s, and the archeological remnants of an early amusement park. Educational displays also reveal the many animals and plants that call the area home, and why native plants and habitat restoration are key to the endurance of wildlife.

Interpretative Items and the Lookout Café: Visitors can take a peek into the future thanks to a fortune-telling machine from the Musée Mécanique, an old fashioned “arcade” at the nearby Cliff House, and choose from a selection of unique interpretative items for purchase. The new Lookout café features a selection of fresh, locally-sourced grab-and-go fare, including the It’s It, which was originally developed by George Whitney for sale at Playland At the Beach.

Sustainability and Design: Designed with the surrounding natural landscape in mind, architectural components of the new Lookout include reclaimed Redwood siding, natural ventilation and lighting, low-flow fixtures, native-plant landscaping and photovoltaic systems, and windows that showcase the panoramic view of Sutro Baths and the California coastline. The structure also offers storage space for the ongoing volunteer-driven stewardship efforts that will help sustain the maintenance and preservation of Lands End as well as the nearby California Coastal Trail.

Long before Europeans arrived in North America, Lands End was a seasonal home to the Yelamu Ohlone tribe. In the late 1800s, Adolph Sutro, a San Francisco entrepreneur, supported the building of the Cliff House Railroad to bring the general public to his ocean-side amusements—the Sutro Baths and Sutro Heights Gardens. In 1887, at Sutro's urging, Seal Rocks became a designated marine preserve—one of the nation's first. In its many reincarnations, the site has served as the Playland amusement park and a 1960s ice rink, but these early visitor amenities were destroyed by fire in 1966. In the 1980s, the land was purchased by the National Park Service and the recent improvements are the latest in a long line of innovative and sustainable projects made possible through their partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Work began on the visitor center in 2011, through a generous lead gift from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, with major support from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and additional funding from the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund. The Lands End improvement project also received lead support from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund for upgrades to the USS San Francisco Memorial overlook and parking area, a new wheel-chair accessible trailhead and overlook at Merrie Way, renovations and extension of the Coastal Trail, expanded bicycle and vehicle parking, and restoration of coastal views and natural habitat largely driven by Parks Conservancy and NPS volunteers. Additional funding came from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and the California State Coastal Conservancy.


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