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Portals of the Past/Golden Gate Park

Pros: The setting
Cons: Sad remnants of the earthquake and fire of 1906
Best For: A walk around a sweet little lake where water fowl reside year-round

Portals of the Past
People drive, bike and walk by Portals of the Past every day with no clue as to the origin of this unusual edifice. Visible to all from John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park, the marble columned portico from A.N. Towne's Nob Hill mansion stands at the northern shore of Lloyd Lake. The lake itself is small, populated with ducks and geese. A series of stepping stones by a waterfall invite one to take a short spin, stopping to inspect this eerie entryway to a former railroad executive's architectural gem.

Towne's home was built in 1891 and occupied the southwest corner of California and Taylor Streets. It burned to the ground, except for the portico, along with most of the other Nob Hill mansions as fire raged through San Francisco after the great earthquake in 1906. In 1909, as a tribute to the 3-day-long inferno , and the city's subsequent swift rise from the ashes, this monument was placed here.

Noteworthy: Urban legend has it that ghostly, eerie sightings have occurred here.

Portals of the Past
John F. Kennedy Drive
Tween de Young Museum to the east and Spreckels Lake to the west
Golden Gate Park