Lincoln Park Steps are ready for their grand re-entrance. Built in 1909 at the northwestern edge of San Francisco, they’re the gateway to the surrounding urban neighborhood, the park’s golf course, playground and two landmarks — the Legion of Honor museum and Lands End Trail. The top of the 57 steps boasts a magnificent view of the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown skyline and East Bay hills.

But residents and visitors rarely climbed to enjoy the view. Decades of neglect had left them and the landings, pillars, benches and retaining walls flanking them seriously damaged, a draw for nighttime loitering, graffiti and dumping.


Lincoln Park steps before (left) and after tile work by San Francisco artist Aileen Barr. Photo: Lorren Butterwick

So neighbors formed a “friends” group in 2008 to develop a plan to repair and beautify the area with Beaux Arts-inspired tile work. Reconstruction and installation of the tiles proceeded in stages, with structural improvement and tiles for the top bench and retaining wall completed in 2010. The steps, the finale, are ready for a May 28 ribbon cutting.

The Friends were awarded $234,000 in city grants and raised $312,000 in private donations for the seven-year project, which was fiscally sponsored by San Francisco Parks Alliance.

The Parks Alliance helps residents and city government collaborate to improve parks that are deteriorating due to age and inadequate public funding, advocates for park maintenance and makes grants to park groups. It was formed in 2011 when two organizations, Neighborhood Parks Council and San Francisco Parks Trust, joined forces.

Posted May 14, 2015