Members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on the Land Use and Transportation Committee (Dean Preston, top left; Aaron Peskin, bottom left; Myrna Melgar, bottom middle) with Supervisor Connie Chan (top right) and Gordon Mar (bottom right).
We are pleased that yesterday, the Board of Supervisor’s Land Use and Transportation Committee unanimously voted to initiate landmark designation for Lincoln Park, formerly known as City Cemetery. We thank Supervisor Connie Chan for sponsoring this initiation, the San Francisco Planning Department staff, local researchers, and organizations such as APIAHiP, Angel Island Immigration Station, Western Neighborhoods Project, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Chinatown Community Development Center, and the dozens of individuals who wrote and called in (in English and Chinese) to voice their support for this designation.
Contrary to concerns expressed by some who use the Lincoln Park Golf Course, landmark designation should not affect the maintenance or golfing in any way.
Outside of the two remaining physical structures in the park, the Kong Chow funerary monument and Ladies’ Seaman’s Friend Society monument, nothing commemorates the estimated 20,000 individuals still buried beneath Lincoln Park. Landmarking is the first step in recognizing City Cemetery, where diverse communities of immigrants who built San Francisco still lie.
The Kong Chow funerary monument in Lincoln Park. Photo by John Martini.
In public comments, Mary Ann Ahtye, great-great-granddaughter of Yee Ah Tye, talked about the land her ancestor originally purchased for burials in the Chinese community: “This land is sacred, hallowed ground, as no one knows how many Chinese and other members of ethnic communities are buried here.” Robert Wong, from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association echoed this sentiment: “[Lincoln Park] is Chinese American heritage here in America…this was the beginning of Chinese Americans.”
The most significant piece of Lincoln Park are the thousands of bodies still remaining underground.
In closing out the agenda item, Supervisor Connie Chan reinforced the importance of commemorating the significant history of Lincoln Park and City Cemetery: “We need to know where we’ve been to know where we’re going.”
On the heels of this positive recommendation from Land Use, the Board of Supervisors will vote today (July 27) on initiating landmark designation. The Planning Department will have 180 days after Mayor London Breed approves initiation to prepare the landmark nomination for review by the Historic Preservation Commission. Heritage has offered to assist Planning with research and writing of the nomination as it moves along the process.