December 1999


Type: SNRA Park & Community Playground.
Entrance Location: For Billy Goat Hill, street park along Beacon St below Diamond at the park. For the Walter Haas Playground street park along Daimond Heights Blvd near Addison St.
Facilities: Playground has no restroom, phone, or water. No facilities at Billy Goat Hill.
Fee-Hours: No fee. No curfew noted.
Dogs: Fair. Open space areas are limited at Billy Goat Hill and do not accomodate dogs very well. Better at Walter Haas Playground.

This is a fine combination of an almost completely unknown SNRA park and a very nice playground backed by a medium expanse of finely kept lawns in the open sun. The Diamond Heights area is a focus for special playgrounds that represent a classically San Francisco community based 'movement' away from convential playground design, an idea that seemed to come and go in the seventies. The inspiration reflects a creative progression of how the play structures are designed, resulting in 'treehouse' like complicated constructions that are multi-use and hence really engage the creativity of the child. This kind of playground architecture is well represented here at Walter Haas. The setting is also very nice.

About a block away from here and separated by an uncrossable slope of trees (in other words, access separately) is Billy Goat Hill. The park is cultivated on a steep slope that appears to have been too difficult to build upon. Many spaces in San Francisco have become parks for this reason alone. Billy Goat Hill is almost completely open, with a superb easterly view from about 500.' The view includes a vantage which looks almost straight down the line of the Bay Bridge and over downtown. Although the park is mostly steep slope, there is a small flat field at the high point. Also, there is a central sitting spot on an outcrop of rocks that could hardly be more picturesquely set; the 'throne' as it were, next to a single massive eucalyptus tree which stands isolated at this natural apex in the slope. This is a special convergence of nice features. An opportune 30' rope swing has existed intermittently here and swings so far out over the descending slope that one can see why it gets cut away (an accidental fall from the outswing could kill). Still, when it exists it is probably the best rope swing in the city.

There is not much to explore in this park. There has been some effort to plant nice shrubs, but the park is dominated by annual grasses left to grow undisturbed. The park is quite notable for its special 'throne' spot and thereby distinguishes itself as a memorable SNRA. Both parks exist in the context of a nice neighborhood.