Community Engagement

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The Presidio became a park in a nationwide effort to bring national park experiences, and the many benefits they offer, closer to where most people live – in urban areas. Presidio Tunnel Tops is the long-awaited “starting point” for visitors to begin their Presidio adventure. How was it created?

By the Community for the Community

The Presidio Tunnel Tops area has an interesting backstory. The space used to be home to an elevated highway that connected San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge by cutting through the Presidio. In 2012, the outdated highway was demolished and later replaced with the new Presidio Parkway, with the road tucked naturally into the Presidio through tunnels.

Doyle drive deconstructed spectators

With this change, we had an opportunity to make an exciting new public open space for our communities.

To make sure the new destination would be welcoming, accessible, and fun, we asked the public to help “imagine” what Presidio Tunnel Tops could be. In 2014, the Partnership for the Presidio launched an international competition to find a team to work with the community to design Presidio Tunnel Tops. James Corner Field Operations was the community’s clear favorite and was selected.

In my dream park ideas
Design lab community drawings
In my dream park ideas
Design lab community drawings
Presidio tunnel tops public meeting
Design lab community drawings
Design lab park ideas
Design lab group
Community meeting on tunnel tops
Community meeting on tunnel tops
Youth meeting on tunnel tops
In my dream park ideas amphitheatre

In 2015 people from all over the Bay Area shared their ideas. Thousands dropped off comment cards in our “design lab,” went on a walking tour, or submitted an idea on our website. Many more shared their input at one of 14 public workshops held in San Francisco’s neighborhoods and in the Presidio. In total, more than 10,000 people participated.

What We Heard

Through this process, we learned what the public needed to feel welcomed, comfortable, and inspired. The community said:

  • Highlight the Presidio’s natural beauty, views, and history
  • Make sure it’s family-friendly, safe, and well-lit
  • Create fun, hands-on ways for kids to connect with history and the outdoors
  • Have spots to gather, picnic, and barbeque together
  • Offer affordable food and plenty of restrooms
  • Create spaces that are protected from the wind
  • Make sure the trails and paths are accessible to everyone

With this feedback, the Presidio Tunnel Tops was designed over the course of three years. Construction began in 2018, fueled by support from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Capital Campaign. The destination opens to everyone in spring 2022, with so much to see and do.

We Want to Engage with You!

Working collaboratively, the Partnership for the Presidio, supports the ongoing development of the Presidio as an inclusive, equitable, and relevant national park site for all. We are committed to engaging with the communities we serve, especially those that have been historically underrepresented in national parks.

Summer day camp at pasados del presidio event
Tenderloin homeless seniors
Community members and buffalo soldier
Parachute fun at rob hill campground
Two visitors in wheelchairs hiking
Celebration at coastal view
Presidio park visitors
Mounted police at buffalo soldiers walk
Butterfly event
Youth dancing onstage in main post
Presidigo driver
Rafiki coalition members
Y walking challenge
Ymca bbq

We partner with community-based organizations, schools, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to find opportunities to unlock the potential of the Presidio to better serve local communities. What communities are you a part of? Do work for an organization serving local communities? How can the Presidio meet your needs?

We want to continue to learn from you – send your questions, ideas, and feedback to myparkideas@presidiotrust.gov. We look forward to hearing from you!

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