San Francisco Botanical GardenAbout San Francisco Botanical Garden
Inside the 75th

Snapshot History
Then & Now
The Garden in World Context
Garden Feast
Community Day
Become a Member

The Garden in World Context

Golden Gate Park1879 – Golden Gate Park is planted with Monterey cypress, Monterey pine, and blue gum eucalyptus.

1890 – A site is designated for an eventual arboretum and botanical garden; a bond issue to establish it fails. The site is preserved and planted with trees, including the mature and massive trees that presently grow in the Redwood Grove.

1926 – Helene Strybing makes a bequest to establish an arboretum; the money is gradually made available for use in the 1930s and 1940s.

1939 – Works Progress Administration (WPA) plans for the Garden, under the direction of Eric Walther, include a geographic plant display theme, selected so plants can be grouped according to water requirements.

San Francisco Botanical Garden sign1940 – San Francisco Botanical Garden opens as Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. First cup and saucer magnolia to bloom in the U.S. is at the Garden. Today, the Garden is recognized by the leading international botanical conservation organization as having the most significant Magnolia collection for conservation purposes outside China.

1948 – The establishment of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) calls for "the planet's resources to be used in a wise and equitable manner."

1949 – A more detailed plan designed by Prentiss French relocates the arboretum headquarters to 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way and creates "the long lawn." Sites for South American, Eastern Australian, and New Zealand Gardens are determined.

1955 – The nonprofit Strybing Arboretum Society is established to support the continued development of the Botanical Garden and to provide educational programs.

1958 – The first endangered species list is published.

1959 – A new master plan designed by Robert Tetlow gives the Garden its current modernist character; a central elliptical open space with a simple fountain is the central way-finding element.

Elizabeth McClintock1960 – Botanist Elizabeth McClintock helps halt plans to construct a freeway through the Botanical Garden. The Hall of Flowers is built and dedicated. Flower shows for the next 35 years bring visits from Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Rosalyn Carter, Emperor Hirohito, and Princess Margaret, among others. The building's name is officially changed to the San Francisco County Fair Building in 1986.

1962 – In Silent Spring Rachel Carson warns about DDT; it is the birth of the modern environmental era.

1968 – Raymond Dasmann coins the term "biological diversity," which becomes "biodiversity" by the mid-1980s. A children's garden is planted.

1970 – The Environmental Protection Act is enacted. World population: 4.45 billion.

Books in the  Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture1972 – The Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture opens and develops Northern California's most comprehensive collection of horticultural materials.

1980 – Andean wax palm, the tallest palm in the world, planted in what would become the Andean Cloud Forest collection. The Garden now has one of the most comprehensive collections of high-elevation palm species known in any botanical garden in the world.

Deppea splendens1984 – Mesoamerican Cloud Forest planting begins. Over three decades this collection has matured to represent a typical cloud forest plant community and includes many rare and endangered plants.

1985 – A hole in the ozone layer is detected.

1995 – A new Master Plan for the Garden is created and incorporated into the Master Plan for Golden Gate Park, adopted in 1998. With help from private donors and public funds, there have been a number of Garden renovations and improvements in furtherance of the Master Plan, which continues to guide planning today.

1996 – City and county ordinances mandate a drastic reduction in the use of pesticides at city-owned facilities; SFBG becomes a main laboratory, sharing "integrated pest management" practices developed here.

1997 – The Kyoto Protocol is established to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Southeast Asian Cloud Forest planting begins. This garden, along with the Andean Cloud Forest and Mesoamerican Cloud Forest, makes SFBG the only garden in the world to host three cloud forest collections outside their native habitats.

2000 – World population: 6 billion.

2001 – The International Panel on Climate Change reports global warming due to human activities.

2004 – Strybing Arboretum changed its name to San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, and the Strybing Arboretum Society follows suit becoming San Francisco Botanical Garden Society at Strybing Arboretum.

Franciscan manzanita by Stan Shebs2010 – The International Union for the Conservation of Nature finds that one-fifth of the world's 380,000 known plant species are in danger of extinction. A supremely rare manzanita is found in the Presidio; cuttings are preserved at San Francisco Botanical Garden.

2012 – Scientists warn we are undergoing a "sixth mass extinction" event. World population: 7 billion.

2013 – Building permit granted for the Nursery: Center for Sustainable Gardening. The Center will contribute to the Garden's status as a truly great garden, not only for its collections but also for its environmental leadership, sustainable propagation and conservation practices, and inspiring visitor experience.

2015 – The Garden celebrates its 75th Anniversary.

75th Media Sponsors
KQED and SF Magazine

Celebrating the Garden's 75th Anniversary

2015 marked 75 years since the Garden opened to the public as a place of beauty, learning and inspiration. We would like to thank the donors, members, visitors, volunteers, garden staff, and the people of San Francisco who have been involved throughout the years and who continue to make the Garden a cherished part of the cultural fabric of our community.


A Snapshot of the Garden


Then & Now

Then and Now exhibit

Adventure through the Garden's history in a special 75th Anniversary online photo exhibit juxtaposing more than 75 classic and modern photos.


The Garden in World Context –
A Timeline

More than 150 years ago, the world's population was a mere 1.2 billion souls; San Francisco housed just 812 of them. The Gold Rush brought settlement and riches here, and in the 1870s civic leaders assigned 1000 acres of sand dune to be transformed into Golden Gate Park. In the years since, constant cultivation has established a 12-inch layer of topsoil over that sand, which still lies below. The rest of the world has fundamentally changed also. The history of San Francisco Botanical Garden began with great foresight on the part of committed individuals. Snaking through the steady rise of our attainments over the years is a dark trend – global environmental degradation and loss that deepen our mission and call us to rekindle our commitment to the whole garden we call Earth. The Garden is in a special position to help educate the public and nurture the plants that make it so. The year 2015 does not represent the end of the timeline, just the beginning of the Garden's next 75 years of enriching our community and engaging us in Earth's exquisite biodiversity.

Follow the Garden's path through time on the right side of this page.


Garden Feast –
Thursday, May 28, 2015

Garden Feast

On May 28, 2015, San Francisco Botanical Garden celebrated its 75th Anniversary at our annual Garden Feast luncheon surrounded by an exceptional community of supporters, with a keynote address from Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. Our sincerest gratitude goes out to our attendees, sponsors, and auction participants as well as our dedicated volunteers and trustees for helping us make this event the best one yet. Together, we raised over $460,000 to support the Garden's Youth Education Program.

Please join us for Garden Feast 2016 on Wednesday, May 25 at 11am – 2pm! The Luncheon begins with a silent auction of rare plants, exceptional culinary packages, and unique Garden experiences, followed by an organic feast by Dan McCall under a tent on the Great Meadow. Our keynote address will be Louie Schwartzberg, an award winning producer, director, and cinematographer whose breathtaking films of nature inspire and open people's hearts. Schwartzberg's greatest satisfaction is creating works that can have a positive effect on the future of the planet.

For more information, visit the Garden Feast 2016 web page.


Community Day Celebration

Community Day Celebration

On May 31st, 2015, San Francisco Botanical Garden held a free, daylong celebration that featured family activities, giant puppets, a sing-a-long, a variety of docent-led walking tours, a special stage featuring world music and dance performances reflecting the global nature of the collection, a photo booth, and more. Many thanks to everyone that came out to celebrate!


Flower Piano

Flower Piano

For twelve days in the summer of 2015 San Francisco Botanical Garden continued 75th anniversary activities and became the City's own outdoor concert hall by placing twelve pianos at iconic locations throughout the Garden's beautiful 55 acres. Everyone was invited to celebrate the powerful relationship of music and nature and the overwhelming positive response from the community was like nothing the Garden has ever seen!

With such an amazing response from the community we are ecstatic to be bringing Flower Piano back to the Garden again in 2016 from July 7–18! Make sure to save the dates and plan a visit to enjoy this magical event!


Become a Member and Help the Garden Thrive

Become a Member for the 75th

Become a member and help the Garden continue to connect our community to the natural world, right in the heart of the city. As a member, you'll receive great perks all year, including free Member Garden Parties each season, free admission to hundreds of gardens nationwide, and other significant discounts. Most important, with the Garden dependent on members, donors and visitors to fund more than 70 percent of its operating costs, you'll provide critical support to ensure the Garden's plant collections and programs continue to grow and thrive.
Become a member today > >

SFBGS and San Francisco Recreation and Park Department San Francisco Botanical Garden's beauty and value as a major cultural resource are the result of a successful public/private partnership between San Francisco Botanical Garden Society and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

ADMISSION  FREE for Members, SF Residents (with proof of residency) & School Groups | $7 Non-residents | Discounts for Seniors & Children

LOCATED In Golden Gate Park, with entrances at the corner of Ninth Ave. at Lincoln Way (Main Gate) & at MLK Jr. Drive off the Music Concourse (Friend/North Gate) | Phone: (415) 661-1316 | Mail: 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122-2370

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