San Francisco Zoo – San Francisco CA


‘Work consisted of grading 114,600 cubic yards for underground pump house, underpass, paths, paddocks, lakes and lagoons; placing 6,600 cubic yards of red rock surfacing on paths; building 123,000 square feet of rustic rubble face to slopes of paths; spreading 20,000 cubic yards loam, installing 18 inch culverts, 18,400 feet of sewer, 13,100 feet of irrigation system and 4 pumps; construction of underground reinforced concrete pump house of 315 cubic yards, 150 cubic yards concrete under-pass, concrete wall, moat slab and coping around animal island of 485 cubic yards and landscaping. This improvement contributed to make these gardens unique among the public parks of America. The animal quarters were built according to latest designs that permit the greatest freedom for the wild animals in natural surroundings, limited only by encumbrances for the safety and protection of the public. There are no fences to obstruct the visitors view of the wild animals. Safety for the spectators is provided by large concrete moats. this improvement will stimulate educational interest in wild life at the zoo and affords much pleasure for residents and visitors to San Francisco.’–Healy, p. 52.

A 1940 WPA publication reported that:

“In order that adequate exhibit space and adequate housing conditions may be provided to exhibit wild animals, the Work Projects Administration and the City and County of San Francisco are increasing the zoo acreage approximately ten times the present size.

A pumping plant for the enlarges zoo has been installed, which circulates running water throughout the entire acreage…

In addition to the yards, rapidly nearing completion are a large lion house with four separate yards; a pachyderm house surrounded by two large elephant yards; one hippopotamus yard, one rhinoceros yard; five bear dens; a paddock, several lakes, and a large bird house.”

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s

Source notes

Healy United States. Work Projects Administration (Calif.) Report on Progress of the Works Program in San Francisco. January, 1938. Works Progress Administration / William Mooser, Jr., branch manager. [San Francisco? 1938]

William R. Lawson. "Achievements, Federal Works Agency. Work Projects Administration, Northern California." 1940: 90-93.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

1 Zoo Rd.
San Francisco, CA 94132

Location notes:
Lat/lon is in the middle of the Zoo. Exact project location TBD.

Coordinates: 37.732909, -122.50324

One comment on “San Francisco Zoo – San Francisco CA

  1. Richard D Deucher

    I have a lot of photos from my family. My Father’s Step Father (Jack Estes) was a Civil Engineer in San Francisco in the 1930’s and 1940’s on a lot of Public Works projects (SF Zoo and others). I have a collection of 15 Photos of the SF Zoo. They are all commonly identified on the backs:
    Area No. 7 W.P. No. 11645-10
    County S.F. City S.F.
    Project Name Zoological Gardens Date Taken 9-19-1940
    Negative File No. Some of these numbers are the same but on different photos. The numbers range from 5866 to 5904 with a lot of numbers missing. I don’t Know the original source of the photos. Are you interested?

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