Some of the 150th anniversary celebrations for Golden Gate Park are actually going to happen this year after all, and at the very least the 150-foot-tall "observation wheel" that we were promised is, in fact, opening for rides soon.
In a tweet today, SF's Rec and Parks Department announced that the wheel is opening in "late October," and the "finishing touches" to the ride are being put on as we speak.
We’re excited to start putting the finishing touches on the Observation Wheel! At the end of October, you can discover a new way to experience Golden Gate Park and celebrate its 150th anniversary from 150 feet in the air. #GGP150 pic.twitter.com/AWLQ0c7kHv— SF Rec and Park (@RecParkSF) September 29, 2020
The observation wheel was first announced back in December along with some other celebrations for the park's big sesquicentennial in April. But then, of course, the pandemic upended all such plans, and the wheel sat out there half finished on the lawn between the de Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences. In March, the celebrations were said to be "rescheduled."
Last week, the de Young reopened to the public with its delayed Frida Kahlo exhibit, and today we learn via Hoodline that the Academy of Sciences has set a reopening date of October 13 for members, and October 23 for the general public. Also, the Conservatory of Flowers is set to reopen to its members on Thursday, October 1, and to the general public next week, with social distancing precautions in place.
So, everything is kind-of-almost back to normal!
All the celebrations for the park's anniversary have been virtual so far, with a live bison cam that launched in July, and some online concerts. And a scheduled outdoor benefit for the SF Parks Alliance, originally set for last weekend, was also canceled.
Ferris wheel rides sound like they'll be possible next month, though, and that may be the extent of the in-person celebrating that we'll see during this anniversary year. As we were told in December, the 12-minute rides on the wheel were initially going to be free for one month, and then they'd be $18 a pop — $12 for children and seniors.
"The Observation Wheel is a tribute to the resilience of San Franciscans & a celebration of our parks that offer strength & beauty through difficult times," the Rec & Parks Department said in a statement today. "Stay tuned for details on the health measures we’re implementing to provide more safe recreational opportunities in our parks."
The announcement came alongside one by Mayor London Breed on Tuesday afternoon that, due to improving COVID-19 metrics, the city is moving forward with next-stage reopening measures that include playgrounds, places of worship and indoor dining at limited capacity.
Golden Gate Park was constructed over multiple years in the 1860s and was officially completed with a grand opening on April 4, 1870.