Inside the 75th
The Garden in World Context
1879 – 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.
1940 – 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.
1960 – 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.
1972 – 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.
1984 – 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.
2010 – 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
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
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 –