The Music Concourse as we know it today was built in 1900, when Claus Spreckels gave his Temple of Music to the people of
San Francisco. Hundreds of trees were planted in a grid pattern in the Bowl to provide shade for the concert-goers. At the
dedication, one of the speakers referred to the tree grid and how future generations of San Franciscans would enjoy music
under "these trees in their age and decrepitude as now in their early growth."
The Music Concourse has been a significant outdoor performance space that is important to San Francisco's history. According
to the Landmarks application prepared by architectural historian William Kostura, "...the Music Concourse has significance
at the local level as an outdoor performance space and for its association with the Park Band...for most of the twentieth
centery the Concourse was one of several free cultural attractions in this part of Golden Gate Park...the Music concourse,
then, represents important themes in San Francisco's cultural history."
In addition, Kostura states, "...the Music Concourse has significance at the national level as a late nineteenth
century and early twentieth century urban park landscape. The landscape is an unusually complex one, with a musical performance
space, dual circulation systems (for vehicles and pedestrians), trees, and many commemorative monuments. The aesthetic quality
of the place is very high... Very few urban park landscape in the United States are this complex, have this level of quality,
and retain this degree of integrity."
"The integrity of the district is very high. The major elements - the concourse bowl, the Temple of Music, the London
plane trees, the benches, the staircases, the paths, and strets, the pedestrian tunnels, the fountains, the monuments - all
survive, with remarkabley few modern intrusions." [Please note: there are elm trees and a few other species in the
Bowl, which Kostura mentions elsewhere; in addition, the tunnels have now been destroyed by the present construction but are
scheduled to be replaced.]
The historic trees are now mature. Over the years, trees have been lost due
to lack of funding for specialized maintenance, vehicular damage during public events and other accidents. These trees need
careful monitoring and maintenance that is threatened by our current budget cuts.
In addition, this should be a full
grid, but it has been missing many trees. As part of the Surface Improvements Project, the City replanted many
of the missing trees, as described in the Golden Gate Park Master Plan. Sadly, someone (as yet unknown) attacked many
of the new trees, destroying 17 of them. New trees are scheduled to be replanted soon.
Friends of the Music Concourse is also advocating for replacement of all of the missing trees in
front of the Bandshell. This tree grid provides shade for concert-goers on sunny days as well as protection from our rolling
Some historical Concourse structures have been lost forever due to the current construction. However, the remaining
elements, such as the fountains, bandshell, and decomposed granite walking surface must be preserved and maintained.
Recently, the bandshell roof was renovated. The fountains are under renovation and will be running again by fall, 2010.
The new benches, both in the Bowl and around the upper pathway, add needed seating to the area. More moveable benches
are needed for the larger musical events.
The character of the Bowl is formed with all of these historic features. They are an integral part of the cherished
memories of visitors from all over the world.
To read the full application by William Kostura, type in: http://www.sfpix.com/landmark(space) images/index.html