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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Magazine Lists San Francisco's Top-10 Parks: Golden Gate Snubbed Entirely

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2009 at 5:30 AM

click to enlarge There it is, folks: The 'best' park in the city. No, really. - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • There it is, folks: The 'best' park in the city. No, really.

There seems to be no shortage of entirely subjective/arbitrary Top-10 lists involving San Francisco swimming about the Internet. We'd compile a Top-10 list of Top-10 lists for you -- but, to be honest, the concept is far more entertaining than the execution.

And while the list of San Francisco lists is more voluminous than the city's condo conversion sweepstakes pool, every once in a while a Top-10 list does wrench away our attention from pressing, important matters.  Take, for instance, last week's ranking of the city's best parks by California Home + Design magazine. Now, reasonable people can differ on where they like to spend their park-lazing hours, or what the term "best" means with regards to a park. And, you know, it's okay if Golden Gate Park doesn't take the obligatory top spot in favor of some esoteric, lesser-known locale.

But to leave it off entirely? As my grandmother would have said -- and not approvingly, believe you me -- "That's a thing to do?"

So, what is the No. 1 greenspot in the city according to California Home + Design? It's Mission Bay Park -- and you can insert your own exclamation of incredulousness here. Those who don't frequent Mission Bay have probably never seen nor heard of this place -- and, in a serious blow to the definition of "best" park in the city, you would likely never consider heading to this park as an end in and of itself. If your humble narrator was willing to clean broken glass off Fourth Street, however, he could hit Mission Bay Park with a baseball thrown from his computer desk. If nothing else, the canal-side park has always looked remarkably like a computer-generated rendering of how a completed architectural project will appear -- complete with conspicuously multi-generational and multi-cultural folks strolling about as well as more than a few disabled folks (also multi-generational and multi-cultural) thrown in for good measure. And, as luck would have it, the above photo snapped from SF Weekly's office caught a contingent of wheelchair- and walker-equipped folks congregating in the park.  

What's the magazine's rationale for giving this obscure scrap of land the city's top billing? Here you go:

This newly completed park has it all: neatly trimmed grass, lots of

sunshine, a new Philz Coffee adjacent to the new public library on

Third St. (have an iced mint coffee and hit the lawn), café tables

perfect for picnicking, the cleanest public bathrooms ever and views of

the Bay and the creek, which is filled with sun-burned kayakers and

decades-old houseboats--an enchanting contrast to the shiny new condo

towers rising all around.

All this is true -- though we can't attest to the cleanliness of the restrooms -- but it still doesn't answer the perplexing question of how a dinky little park surrounded by boxy, soulless condos resembling the building on the Stolichnaya label managed to snag the top spot. If someone in the know would like to drop us a line, please feel free to do so. Until then, as Ronald Reagan once quipped, "it's a mystery."

As for the rest of the list, other than the exclusion of Golden Gate Park (and, for that matter, Corona Heights, Grandview Park, Alta Plaza, Buena Vista, and the Presidio), it's an thought-provoking compilation.

And we'll have to thank the author for alerting us to the existence of Cayuga Park. If ever a list is made of Top-10 Parks to dump a body, dump an appliance, find a body, find an appliance, or find a body in an appliance, we humbly suggest McLaren Park for the No. 1 spot.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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