Public Health Service District

The massive eight story yellow brick Presidio Landmark, with a grassy lawn, sidewalk and sign.
The Presidio Landmark in the Public Health District

Quick Facts

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Scenic View/Photo Spot

This area was once a hospital campus tending to merchant mariners from around the world. Today, it's home to the Presidio Landmark apartments. The Public Health Service District is an increasingly popular entry point to trails in the Presidio's Southern Wilds. Parking is limited, so arrive early.

Southern Wilds Trails

You can access four in-and-out trails from here into the Southern Wilds area. Each trail is moderate to easy in its terrain, and offers incredible opportunities to explore the wild Presidio. Be warned! Parking at the trailheads is limited and tricky.

  • Anza Trail 2.7 miles
  • Mountain Lake Trail 2.6 miles
  • Park Trail 1.7 miles
  • Lobos Creek Valley 0.8 miles

No dog friends allowed, please.

Changing facades: Public Health Service Hospital

Back in the 1800s, San Francisco was still a wild-eyed beast of a port town full of ship-bound fortune hunters. There wasn't a lot in the way of social services then, but one place you could go if you were a merchant seaman in need of aid was the US Marine Hospital, which provided free treatment to sailors of all nations.

Built in 1875, the Marine Hospital operated until 1932, when it was replaced by the building that stands here now, the Public Health Service Hospital. Two wings were added to the front of the building in the 1950s. The work of caring for ailing sailors continued when the Public Health Service took over.

Eventually, the hospital extended its programs to caring for members of the US Coast Guard and other governmental agencies, as well as Native Americans and Vietnamese refugees. The Public Health Service also conducted important research on plague and other communicable diseases.

After the hospital's closure in 1981, the Military Language Institute used part of the facility from 1982 to 1988. In the early 2000s, the building became a major destination for graffiti artists. In 2009, the Presidio Trust demolished the wings that were added in the 1950s, and the following year the main building reopened as the Presidio Landmark apartments.

Located in the heart of the Presidio, the historic apartments offer amenities equal to modern apartment complexes throughout the city, with similar rents.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Presidio of San Francisco

Last updated: February 9, 2021