Presidio of San Francisco (April 9, 2009) — History and modern technology converge to give Presidio visitors a unique interactive experience along the park’s oldest footpath. Now, A Lovers’ Line has been honored with the Association of Partners for Public Lands Excellence Award, the group’s highest honor, as well as an award for best multimedia program.
More than two centuries ago, as the original Spanish Presidio was taking shape, the shortest route to and from the fort to the nearby town was the footpath that would come to be known as Lovers’ Lane. First used by Spanish soldiers and Franciscan missionaries, the mile-long trail, which winds through a stately grove of eucalyptus trees, became the most popular route into San Francisco for American soldiers in the 1800s.
A Lovers’ Line brings the trail’s past into the present, introducing Presidio visitors to the path’s untold stories. Beginning at either end of the mile-long trail, visitors stroll the scenic, romantic path listening to audio tales that evoke the flavors of different Presidio eras. The podcasts tell the stories of a Spanish missionary, a pioneer woman and a Buffalo Soldier among others and are available for download athttp://www.presidio.gov/map/Pages/a-Lovers-Line-audio-tour.aspx.
The interactive experience is the brainchild of San Francisco artist and historian Jeannene Przyblyski. A professor at the San Francisco Art Institute, Przyblyski is executive director of the San Francisco Bureau of Urban Secrets, a visual arts and urbanism think tank that promotes art in city life.
“I think interest in the project demonstrates the public’s interest in history updated from contemporary perspectives,” Przyblyski says.
“It was designed,” she continued, “to be experienced on multiple levels. It’s accessible to both those who come to the Presidio specifically seeking A Lovers’ Line and those who happen upon it by chance. All have the opportunity to explore and essentially create their own Lovers’ Lane narrative.”
Originally conceived as a temporary project, A Lovers’ Line was installed for eight weeks during the fall of 2008. Due to its popularity, the Trust decided to make it an ongoing experience and it was re-launched on Valentine’s Day.
A Lovers’ Line offers participants more than just a two-dimensional history. Each person who walks the trail can compare their own position in time and space with someone or something that went before them, straddling the boundary between the past and the present.
“The Presidio is rich in both visible€”those that are carried in the landscape and architecture€”and invisible histories, those that are there if you look carefully but don’t leave as many traces€”like the lives and hopes and dreams of those that have passed through the Presidio,” says Przyblyski. “The challenge is to make those histories relevant and €˜living’ to contemporary visitors. A Lovers’ Line uses technology to suggest the possibilities of those hidden histories in the visitor’s mind, but it also leaves something to their imagination and that’s important too.”
The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to oversee the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It also comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District.”