Woodward’s Gardens was located on six acres of land on the west side of Mission Street between 13th and 14th. The total park was almost two city blocks in size. Admission to the grounds cost an adult a quarter, and children entered for a dime (which was a considerable amount in those days).
The thousands of people who flocked to the Gardens each week were treated to an unbelievable combination of entertainment opportunities. There were four museums featuring large collections of rare paintings, sculptures, stuffed animals, and zoological specimens from all over the planet.
There were also a series of conservatories containing exotic plant life and the largest marine aquarium in America at that time. The huge aquarium had 16 large tanks installed in a cavernous hall decorated with stalactites hanging down from its ceiling.
The spacious outdoor park featured an Indian tribe from the American Midwest who recreated their tribal dances and customs for delighted spectators.
For the younger set, the Gardens offered a giant roller rink and hot air balloon rides. Not to mention thrilling rides on an enormous circular lake in boats that carried a hundred passengers at a time. And there was a zoo—the largest on the West Coast.—with free ranging buffalo, deer, camels, ostriches, flamingos and domestic fowl. Caged animals in the zoo included lions, wolves and bears.
A winding pathway led up to the summit of a hill where there was a 6000-seat pavilion where frequent concerts, dances and acrobatic shows were held.
Woodward Gardens is just one of the golden nuggets I uncovered while researching my new novel, Time Trolley.
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