Golden Gate Park Windmills
December 3, 2012 2:47 PM   Subscribe

At the western edge of Golden Gate Park sit two Windmills, claimed to be among the largest in the world. Built over 100 years ago to irrigate the park, they were eventually made functionally obsolete by electric water pumps and were allowed to fall into a state of neglect. The North (Dutch) Windmill was given a face-lift in 1980, and more recently The South (Murphy) windmill has been completely restored. For the first time in decades both windmills started spinning, appropriately enough, on Queen's Day earlier this year. The entire reconstruction process of the South Windmill is documented in this extensive photo gallery.
posted by MattMangels (11 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I love these windmills so much! Thank you for an excellent post. I think a lot of San Franciscans get too wrapped up in things and miss out on the joys of GG park.
posted by poe at 2:52 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

These, and the Sutro Baths, are both good reasons to go out there.
posted by Danf at 3:14 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I feel I arrived at San Francisco a century too late.

The Windmills, Sutro Baths, Playland by the beach, and the worlds largest swimming pool, Fleishhacker Pool. The Woodward gardens in the Mission. The big cat feedings at the zoo with live prey.

Then I remember all the racism ans the ghettoes, and I feel like I arrived just a few decades late.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 4:24 PM on December 3, 2012

This makes me ridiculously happy, and even more anxious to get back out to SF.

Back when I used to play MMORPG games, I'd go by Quixotic, and try and destroy windmills in any form. Silly RP made me a lot of friends.
posted by DigDoug at 5:42 PM on December 3, 2012

The windmills are an awesome part of the City, and I'm so glad they've been restored. If you have a chance to visit in March or April, you can see the north mill in all its glory alongside the adjacent Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in full bloom.
posted by trip and a half at 6:10 PM on December 3, 2012

This is cool. I was wondering about this: the fairing on the nacelle in the historic photo in this link, looks much smoother and aerodynamic than the reconstruction (which seems kind of angular).
posted by carter at 7:25 PM on December 3, 2012

Sweet! I just visited the north windmill when I was out taking scenic pictures for an art project.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:14 PM on December 3, 2012

I grew up with the Queen's Windmill (or so I always thought of it because it's at Queen Wilhemina's Garden) being fine but the Murphy Windmill being a lovely dramatic ruin. I lived in the Outer Sunset for nearly a decade and watched them remove the Murphy Windmill for repairs. I went back east for just 10 lousy months for school (okay, they were pretty awesome months, but still). I was selfishly very sad to see that I'd missed the grand reinstatement of the Murphy Windmill.

All this is to say, Yay, Windmills! Yay, Golden Gate Park!

Check out the frescos in the first floor of the Beach Chalet. If it's spring, check out the garden. Then walk up past the Cliff House, down to the Sutro Baths, then either out along Land's End or up to Point Sutro to survey the City. Go back down the hill to Java Beach, get a cup of coffee, and thank the stars you live in San Francisco.
posted by smirkette at 11:31 PM on December 3, 2012

Cool news; it's strange to think that they just stopped using them at all in favor of electric pumps for a while.
posted by nTeleKy at 8:47 AM on December 4, 2012

Thanks for posting this. I lived out there just before they started restoring them. I can't wait to visit and see them back in action.
posted by mikepop at 12:49 PM on December 4, 2012

I was just around here earlier today and both windmills weren't spinning. I assume they only have them spinning on special occasions, like Queen's Day.
posted by MattMangels at 5:30 PM on December 9, 2012

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