The official opening of the William Penn Mott Jr. Presidio Visitor’s Center took place recently, as large crowd of people gathered at the main post of the Presidio overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.
Various dignitaries were on hand Feb. 25, including Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, as they celebrated the new center that will serve the Presidio of San Francisco.
“This is a milestone in the continuing transformation of the Presidio from a military post into a national park,” said David Shaw, a spokesperson with the National Park Conservancy.
The Presidio was established in 1776 by Spain as a fort. It served as a military base for Spain for 45 years and then was under Mexico’s control until 1846, when the United States Army took it over.
The United States military controlled the base until the late 1990s when Representative Pelosi led the effort to create the Presidio Trust in 1996.
At the time, this legislation created a public/private partnership model of governance. Today, the Presidio includes housing, a bowling alley, cemetery, gymnasium, office space, parks and lots of open space.
“When we first proposed the public trust, we said that the Presidio would be self-sufficient and both Democrats and Republicans made this national park happen,” said Pelosi.
The Mott Presidio Visitors Center was named after William Mott, the former director of the City of Oakland Park’s System. He later was appointed head of the California State Parks by Governor Ronald Reagan.
Mott became head of the National Park Service and later worked as a consultant to the Presidio Trust.
The national park has close to 18 million visitors annually, with 82,000 acres in the park boundaries, of which 18,000 are managed by the National Park Service.
The Presidio has 263 employees, with 1,493 historical structures and 5 National Historic Landmark Districts. There are also various other businesses on the Presidio National park including the Walt Disney Family Museum, Lucas Film Studio and the Sports Basement.