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!