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May 1999

Type: Municipal Park, 5 acres.
Entrance Location: 20th Street at either San Bruno or Vermont.
Facilities: Extensive playground is impressive. Restroom, water, phone unknown. Area under development in 1999.
Fee-Hours: No fee. No curfew noted.
Dogs: Fair. Limited open space.

McKinley Square is a small park, but it should be addressed because the hillside it is on makes a huge visual impression from other nearby parks (Corona Heights, Buena Vista, Bernal Heights, McLaren). McKinley Square or McKinley Heights exists in a nice neighborhood only blocks away from Portrero Hill, which is projects and not a good place to be. McKinley Square was under renovation in May '99 and was almost completely fenced off with a modern playground under construction, a playground that promises to be quite extensive. Although the playground occupies a flattened area at the highest point, the rest of the park exists on a steep hillside directly over the James Lick Freeway. The playground will distinguish McKinley Heights within the pantheon of parks, not only for itself but also for its setting. The descending hillside however, suffers immensely from being too close to Hwy 101 and yielding no place, no appropriate space, to settle. This is an aspect of the park which has been essentially ruined by the construction of Hwy 101. The highway bisected an original park that was much larger. The absence of any good settle spots on the hillside at the time of survey (1999) leads one to focus almost exclusively on the upper (playground) area.There is a western facing view over the city from McKinley Square Park which is very nice but nothing that can compete with incredible views from Bernal Heights or Corona Heights. In short, although this park is disadvantaged by Hwy 101, it can still be recommended for its playground.

Best Features: Excellent playground with some city view sheltered by cypress trees. The Community Garden adjoining, a folk garden and nursery. Good neighborhood in this immediate area.

Worst Features: Too close to Hwy 101. View is easily outdone by other parks. Hillside space is dead.