With its grassy lawns, lovely views of the city and the bay, tennis courts, playground, picnic tables, and off-leash dog-play area, this hilly park is a source of respite and recreation for residents of San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood.
The city set aside the four-block area in 1855 to be used for a park, but did not officially establish one until 1867. In the meantime, an attorney named Samuel Holladay claimed part of the land and built himself a house at the hill’s summit that became a favorite destination for local literary and political society. Litigation continued for years before the matter was settled; the house was finally torn down in 1936. The first astronomical observatory on the West Coast was built in Lafayette Park in 1879 by George Davidson, best known for his work with the U.S. Coastal Survey. After the 1906 earthquake, refugees from the destruction camped out here and watched the city burn in the great fire that followed the quake.
Lafayette Park was set aside from the St. Louis Common in 1836 and dedicated in 1851 as one of the first public parks, and by far the largest of its era, in the City of St. Louis, Missouri. It is considered by many historians to be the oldest urban park west of the Mississippi.
At 30 acres Lafayette Park is one of the larger parks in the city even though it is still dwarfed by Forest Park which is about 46 times larger.