San Francisco Parks As People
By Victor Beigelman
Mother Nature is an awesome idea. A long time ago, we decided the complex beauty of nature embodies a mother, who gives life to and nurtures everything around us. In city parks, however, people are the ones who curate and landscape what’s inside. So what would a park be like if it were somehow a person? Would it be purely a reflection of what we’ve put into it, or would it have some specific charm all its own? Maybe both?
Let’s find out. In an exercise that would probably bring Leslie Knope to tears, here are nine of San Francisco’s most beloved parks, presented as if they were ordinary people just like the rest of us.
Golden Gate Park
60, female, 5'9", 130 lbs
Golden Gate Park is a strikingly beautiful park for her age – calm, cultured, and graceful. When she walks it's as if time itself slows down, and nothing in the world feels wrong. Ask her for anything you need to make your day better and she'll happily oblige instantly – it's almost as if she can be in a thousand places at once. She's the type to be there when you need her, and then step to the side just before you realize you need to be alone.
56, female, 5'4", 110 lbs
Panhandle, the oft-neglected younger sister of Golden Gate Park, is lovely in her own right, but has forever been bitter about the perception of herself as a lesser extension of her sibling. As a result, she has a tendency to overlook the positive aspects of her charm and focus obsessively on what other parks have that she does not. Joggers and bike riders from the Wiggle constantly praise her snaking paths, but all she can feel is used, a means to get to her sister.
24, male, 5'7", 135 lbs
Dolores Park, or DP, as we sometimes affectionately call him, is at a crossroads. Despite his small frame and constant neurosis, he’s always been outwardly cool – he’s great with parents and kids, yet lets loose with the rebellious youth regularly. Recently, his two worlds have collided. His subdued family and his free-spirited friends have started to visit him at the same time and he’s never been more stressed. Can he stay both family friendly and cool, or will his pal the Truffle Guy scare the kids away and damage his reputation forever?
42, female, 5'6", 150 lbs
Bernal Hill has always been somewhat removed from traditional social circles. She’s the type to stand off to the side at dinner parties, never one to reach out to others to make plans, and is most comfortable when she’s alone. However, despite this reclusive behavior, she’s not a negative person – far from it. With a smile and a sharp eye, she pays attention to what others are doing, just like a lone eagle might attentively survey the land.
44, male, 5'11", 170 lbs
Alamo Square is famous and good-looking and he knows it. Countless people visit him to take his picture and the Painted Ladies, who fall at his feet. And you know what? He’s never gotten tired of it. Why should he? He’s in the heart of the city, he’s got a ton of friends, he’s aging well, and he’s perfectly capable of tuning out his haters.
Washington Square Park
27, female, 5'7", 140 lbs
Washington Square Park is the first person you call to find out about something fun going on that night. She’s everyone’s best friend and always hosts the greatest get-togethers – BBQs, movie nights, rallies, and so on. It seems impossible that she can know so many people so personally, but right when you’re about to get jealous or think she’s a phony, she does something frustratingly sweet, like pay for your Lyft ride home to the Outer Sunset at 2:30 a.m. on a particularly drunken night.
32, male, 6'1", 175 lbs
Crissy Field is a devastatingly handsome, somewhat effeminate, dog-loving artistic type. He spends hours at a time peacefully watching the bay and Golden Gate Bridge splayed out in front of him, encouraging all to join him and meditate in the same way. He’s both an ambassador to and avid participant in the city’s artistic community, and always strives to find the beauty of nature inside and all around him. His only pet peeve is the person who can’t slow down enough to appreciate the little things in life.
78, male, 5'10", 160 lbs
The Presidio is a grizzled veteran, practically exploding with nostalgia for older times. He’s incredibly protective of his surroundings and those he cares about, almost to a fault. From time to time he’ll slip back into his earlier fortified days and insist that visitors stay until “the coast is clear,” but he’ll usually relent after a sharp nudge in the ribs from Lands End. He may give off the demeanor of a particularly fierce man, but he’s truly a softie at heart.
81, female, 4'11", 105 lbs
Lands End is both old and wise and certainly plays the part. She proudly maintains her best features (Coastal Trail, Eagle’s Point) and fondly recalls those that have gone to waste (like Sutro Baths) without an ounce of bitterness. There’s always a sense of calm about her, likely formed thanks to the breathtaking views she’s enjoyed her entire life. She seems as though she’s never been angry once in all her years, a rare and wonderful presence to be in.