Pacific West Region: Aquatic Park, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Painting of Aquatic Park, with trees, ships in the cove, and cars.
Sternwheeler, Sailing Ship, SF Bay and Angel Island, 1949

Hubert Buel, from the San Fancisco Maritime NHP museum collection [SAFR 14665]

Quick Facts

Characteristics of the streamline moderne style in a view of the Bathhouse, 1953.
Characteristic of the streamline moderne style, an emphasis on clean lines required maintenance of clipped hedges, trimmed lawn, and edging along the walkways. View from the Bathhouse, 1953.

NPS, San Francisco Maritime NHP, Historic Documents, Photograph Collection [A12.17.547.1]

Aquatic Park is a designed historic landscape within San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, west of Fisherman's Wharf on the waterfront. In the 1930s and '40s, the Federal Works Progress Administration and the City of San Francisco Department of Public Works collaborated on developing this area. The design included three buildings designed in the streamline moderne style, ten structures, the Sea Scouts Building, the Municipal Pier, and seawall.

Significant planning and construction of Aquatic Park occurred between 1920 and 1945. The Aquatic Park boathouse, built between 1936 and 1939, is the focal point of the historic district.

The landscape is characterized by complex circulation patterns, large open grassy areas, a bathing beach, a lagoon, and some of the optimal views of San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island.

Visitors crowd the beach at Aquatic Cove Park, ca. 1940
Visitors crowd the beach at San Francisco's Aquatic Park, circa 1940

NPS, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Hubert Buel (1915-1984) captured one of these views in his 1949 painting Sternwheeler, Sailing Ship, SF Bay and Angel Island. A native Californian, Buel was a prolific watercolor artist for more than fifty years. The majority of his works were painting with transparent watercolors. This particular painting shows a portion of the park landscape and an early proposal exhibiting the historic ships.

In addition to subject matter near his home, Buel worked briefly as an animator at the Walt Disney Studios and also painted in Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, and during his service as a U.S. Naval Officer in the islands of the South Pacific.

Site plan from the CLR shows current conditions at Aquatic Park.
Site plan from the 2010 Cultural Landscape Report shows existing conditions at Aquatic Park.


Last updated: January 10, 2018