History & Culture

The history and culture of Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes the stories of the Ohlone and Coast Miwok communities, Mexican dairy farms and rural landscapes, the U.S. military and its expansive development of seacoast defenses and elegant early 20th century recreational baths and gardens.

Golden Gate National Receation Area encompasses a wide variety of history and resources. The park manages over 700 historic buildings, including 5 National Historic Landmarks and represent one of the country's largest collection of military installations and fortifications. There are over 60 recorded archeological sites, including sites from the Spanish and Mexican periods. Visit the following pages to learn more about our history and available resources.

men in jumpsuits standing in front of biplane

Learn about the people who shaped Golden Gate, including Adolph Sutro, John Muir, Major Dana Crissy, the Ohlone and Coast Miwok, the Portuguese dairy farmers and Congressman Phillip Burton
ornate building perched over ocean


Learn about the various historic military forts and recreational areas at Golden Gate, including Alcatraz, Fort Point, Fort Mason, Fort Baker, Fort Barry, Fort Cronkhite, Lands End, Cliff House, Sutro Baths, Sutro Gardens, Fort Mason, as well as the learning about the park's different architectural styles.

military men on bluff overlooking construction in water


The park tells many stories, including the Alcatraz Occupation, the U.S. Army defending San Francisco Bay, the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, the Broderick-Terry duel, how the Buffalo Soldiers protected national parks, the role California played in the Civil War, as well as how GGNRA was created as a new park in the 1970s.

historic medicine bottles


Our park collections contains over 3 million historic objects, documents, images and specimens. Visit our collection page to see different on-line museum program exhibits, including the Alcatraz Island Exhibit, the Golden Gate's Military Story and the Parks for the People: 40 years of GGNRA Exhibit.

man on ladder inside building

Learn about how the park professionals preserve and rehabilitate historic buildings and military batteries, document and protect historic archeological sites, historic landscapes and landscape features, such as historic railroad tracks.
woman pulling maps from flat file drawer

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area's Park Archives and Records Center (PARC) is a valuable resource for research. We have finding aids for many of our historic sites and subjects and can help with all types of research including publications, exhibitions and student work.
cover of NPS publication
Cultural Resource Publications and Documents

To help us learn more about our resources, we have produced a wide variety of documents, including historic building reports, cultural landscape reports, preservation manuals and historic resource studies. Many of these documents are now available on-line for the public.

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