What Year Was the Party to Celebrate Bernal Hill Becoming a Park?


This photo has been floating around the Interwebs for a few weeks; it’s a poster/handbill for an event to commemorate the dedication of Bernal Hill as a proper park — in contrast to the mining quarry/ad hoc garbage dump/motocross track that it had been before.

Turning Bernal Hill into a park was definitely a good excuse for celebration, and it looks like the party happened in grand style, with kite-flying, balloons, clowns, and … bagpipes.

But there’s just one problem; it’s not clear what year it was when this happened. There’s a small, penciled-in “1973?” notation in the top-left of the image above, and there’s some corroboration of that year on the old website of the San Francisco Parks Alliance:

Then it was time for Bernal Heights Park- the hill with 26 acres of open grasslands lying between a telephone company’s microwave tower at the top and Bernal Heights Boulevard below. It belonged to the Department of Public Works. In 1972, the Recreation and Park Commission voted to transfer the land to itself to protect it from possible development. Bernal Heights residents, who had pushed for the change, gathered at McLaren Lodge and cheered. Recognizing that Rec and Park had postponed the transfer because the department lacked funds for maintenance, they agreed not to seek capital improvements for the next several years. And in June, 1973, with soaring kites and bouquets of balloons, officials dedicated what one called, “the last and biggest city-owned space available for a park.”

Another clue comes from the date; it turns out, June 10, 1973 really was a Sunday.

Yet while the evidence to support a 1973 date is compelling, we’d rather hear it from a first-hand witness. So… were you in Bernal when the hill formally became a park? Do you recall what year it was when the neighborhood erupted in celebration and bagpipes at the top of Folsom? Do tell!

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12 Responses to What Year Was the Party to Celebrate Bernal Hill Becoming a Park?

  1. A. Neighbor says:

    that’s great! when can we have another big balloon blast-off?

  2. krwalsh says:

    I don’t know what year it was, but I sure hope the guy in the photo received the medical attention he needed after that tumble down the hill. It looks like he broke his right leg and twisted his foot around 180 degrees.

  3. NEED TSHIRT NAOW shut up and take my money

  4. friscolex says:

    Ooh I missed this. Pretty priceless. One wonders about those bicycle events! (…and hopes they were bagpipe-related!)

  5. Todd_Lappin says:

    Just noticed something kind of cool… if you look right in-between the jumping gentleman’s legs, you can see the steeple for the original St. Anthony’s church on Army between Shotwell and Folsom. It burned down in 1975, I believe…

  6. bldxyz says:

    So the prior times June 10 was a Sunday? (Prior to June 10, 1973)…Process of elimination…

  7. doxler says:

    On a related note, when was the western portion of the road closed off to automobiles? Was 5 to 10 years later that I remember driving it, though not a Bernal resident until ’86 by which time it was closed.

    • Codger says:

      Bernal Blvd was closed in 1983 or early ’84. (I remember riding my motorcycle around the Hill before it was closed off.

  8. Miss Thang To You says:

    So a celebration of the wonderfulness of Bernal Hill on the 10th regardless of how old she is!

  9. The prior Sunday June 10ths were in 1956 and 1962. After 1973, there wasn’t another until 1979 and 1984. 1973 it probably is.

  10. Todd_Lappin says:

    Jerry Schimmel just posted this comment in the About Bernalwood page; I am republishing it here:

    The poster in question was prepared during the week of June 3 1973 and the celebration was on June 10. I was chairman of the park committee in 1973. There is a book in the BH library titled BERNAL HILL MEMOIR which has all the information. Jerry Schimmel”

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