Cayuga Park – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

Cayuga is a small park next to the BART tracks that is made extraordinary by the creative efforts of one individual (assuming one individual) that has transformed a great portion of the park into a kind of walk-through wonderland of wood carvings and meticulous gardens. 

The combination of wood carvings and gardens are elaborate, with an especially strong concentration on a combination of religious themes and a God of the Tree kind of natural mysticism. Tiny paths weave through a concentration of amazing detail, like the ‘Path of Hope.’ There are perhaps over 50 carvings ranging from small to large. Many carvings transform dead stumps where they protrude from the ground into eerie forest Gods or figures of some sort, sometimes animals, sometimes allusions to Jesus or the Virgin Mary. There are a few assembled wicker benches surrounded by totems and the like.

The gardens are locked in a strange tension between the oppressive grey concrete and noise of the BART tracks and the very ordinary baseball diamond which dominates most of the park. These special gardens have clearly had to confine themselves to the outskirts of the park and are in stark contrast with the urban element here, but they are a phenomenal reminder of those qualities which have made San Francisco unique in the 60s.

The playground here is a modest one and is outdone by the playground at nearby Lincoln Park. It is also worth noting while on the subject that Edgewood Park (just over the county line from Garwood Dr) has a sensational 50’ long plastic tube slide. The tennis courts at Cayuga are somewhat extensive, but it all rather contrasts with the ‘sacred’ quality of the gardens.

The garden was developed by a San Francisco park employee named Dimitri, a Philippine immigrant whose family had been farmers in the Philippines.  Trees and shrubs were planted by Dimitri in the late 1900’s from seeds given to him by park enthusiasts.  He also carved the 150-odd statues in Cayuga Park. 

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