A Vision for the Presidio


The Presidio of San Francisco, one of America's greatest natural and cultural treasures, has been transformed from a military base to a national park site unlike any other. It will pioneer a new role for a national park by creating a global center dedicated to the world's most critical environmental, social, and cultural challenges.

The Presidio's new role symbolizes the swords-to-plowshares concept. On this site of incomparable beauty and history, we can link our military past with a future full of promise and possibility. This transformation is inspired by an emerging definition of protection - one that recognizes that defense no longer must be based solely on political and military strength, but on stewardship of the world's human and physical resources through global cooperation. Long the guardian of the Golden Gate, the Presidio now stands ready to house a network of organizations dedicated to improving human and natural environments and addressing our common future. The site will be used as a working laboratory to create models of environmental sustainability that can be transferred to communities worldwide. Its inspirational setting will provide a respite for reflection and personal renewal for its many visitors.

The Presidio's significant location has produced an unprecedented concentration of cultural, natural and recreational resources - distinctive architecture, unique ecological systems, inviting parklands, and spectacular vistas. With its context of the Golden Gate, it 's a powerfully evocative and relevant location at which to tell sweeping stories of California and western history.

A 220-year continuous history as a military garrison under three flags distinguishes the Presidio as a National Historic Landmark with a rich collection of historic architecture, engineered structures, and landscape features. Now surrounded by San Francisco's dense residential neighborhoods, the Presidio's open space has become an urban oasis and critical refuge for plants and wildlife, including rare and endangered species, at an important geographical and ecological location. The Presidio's bay and coastal shorelines and forested landscape offer recreational opportunities for active pursuits as well as places for solitude, retreat, and discovery.

Transformation of the Presidio from military post to park is a complex challenge. Unlike any other park, the Presidio contains more than 800 buildings, a research facility, a golf course, a national cemetery, and a full range of recreational and community services on its 1,491 acres. Following transfer of the post to the National Park Service in 1994, a community planning process was initiated that resulted in a General Management Plan for the Presidio. That plan called for the preservation and protection of the park's resources and for bringing organizations together that focus on finding solutions to environmental, cultural and social issues of global scale.

Because of the high cost of maintaining the Presidio's buildings and infrastructure, in 1996 the U.S. Congress established the Presidio Trust to lease and manage the property. The Trust is tasked with transforming the post into a financially self sufficient park by the year 2013 through the leasing of property on the Presidio, while at the same time preserving its natural, scenic and historic resources. On July 1, 1998, management of the non-coastal areas of the Presidio were transferred to the Trust. The Presidio Trust's vision for the future of the Presidio was released in the form of a management plan in the May of 2002.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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