Marchbank Park Re-Opens

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/Photo Opportunity June 10, 2002
Press Contact:  
John C. Martin, City Manager
Michael Stallings, Director, Parks and Recreation Department
D. Peter Gleichenhaus, Director, Public Works Department
(650) 991-8127
(650) 991-8006
(650) 991-8038


Daly City - The $1.5 million renovation of the five-acre, tri-level Marchbank Park, its first makeover in 30 years, is now complete. This Saturday, June 15th, Daly City will re-open the park, located off Junipero Serra Boulevard in the Original Daly City neighborhood and next to the new Pacific Plaza development.

Starting at 9:30 a.m. on the upper level amphitheater area, city officials, community supporters and residents will gather for the official rededication ceremony. A walking tour of the park, which is bounded by North Parkview Avenue and South Parkview Avenue, will culminate with Mayor Michael Guingona throwing the "first pitch" from the mound at the new baseball field on the lower level of the park.

"Marchbank Park's fresh look melds well with Pacific Plaza, its new neighbor. The spacious baseball field, upgraded walking trails, new play equipment and three reconfigured basketball courts are examples of what this fully-refurbished recreational site now offers," cited Mayor Guingona.

"Marchbank Park, some would say, represents the early years of Daly City. Pacific Plaza, to others, plays a pivotal role in the city's future. To be at the juncture of Daly City's past and future has historical significance. It is a milestone many of us will be recounting years, even decades, from today," Guingona noted.


According to Daly City's historians, Ken and Bunny Gillespie, the site now known as Marchbank Park was where rancher J. G. Knowles grazed dairy cattle in the 1850s. The westerly side of the property was then called Knowles' Gulch. At the center of it was a pond, formed from the San Bruno Mountain water run-off.

In 1886, Knowles established the region's first commercial fishpond. Aside from fishermen, skinny-dippers also frequented the site, much to the delight of passengers aboard the trains on the adjacent Southern Pacific Railroad.

After the 1906 earthquake, the natural springs were diverted, eventually drying up the pond. Ranchers soon left the area. Settlers moved in, and named the site Vista Grande. With views of the Pacific Ocean and breathtaking western sunsets, the pond area became Vista Grande Park. Neighbors built a large wooden dance floor on the grassy glade. Thereafter, picnics, ball games, civic celebrations, carnivals, family gatherings and school outings were held there too.

In 1905, John William Marchbank came to Daly City, and used his sizable fortune (acquired from operating saloons and gambling establishments in the 1897 Klondike gold rush) to purchase the Knowles' ranch. In 1919, Marchbank deeded the 7.7-acre property for only $10 (a legality) to the City of Daly City, which was incorporated on 1911.

In June 1941, the park was dedicated, and re-named Marchbank Park, in honor of the local benefactor's generosity.

Over the years, the 4,700 evergreen trees planted in 1941 grew in abundance, providing shelter and beauty for countless activities in the park.

In 1992, the Pepsi Cola Company donated $15,000 worth of play equipment for children.


In the book Gateway to the Peninsula, Samuel Chandler, Daly City's Librarian in 1973, wrote that after World War I, Marchbank reportedly purchased the Tanforan Race Track. He also acquired the Daly City Record newspaper, and served as its publisher for many years. Aside from the park, Marchbank contributed heavily to the City's public library. During the Great Depression, he "clothed and fed" many local families, and saved many homes from foreclosure, according to Chandler.

MARCHBANK PARK: The $1.5 Million Capital Improvements Project

In April 2001, the City Council of Daly City voted unanimously to allocate $1.5 million to renovate and upgrade Marchbank Park, its first major makeover in nearly 30 years. About $1 million of the project was funded from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which are federal entitlement dollars that Daly City receives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Zolman Construction and Development, Inc. of San Carlos was awarded the two-phase construction project, which began May 2001. Royston Hanamoto Alley & Alley, a Mill Valley-based firm, completed the design plans and construction bid documents for the project, which is part of the City's $40 million five-year capital improvements program. Ecocrete, Inc. of Chula Vista was the contractor for the park's clubhouse.

The Marchbank Park construction project was divided in two phases. Phase one focused on the lower level upgrades that included a new pre-fabricated building which houses the concession stand, storage room, and restroom facility. A new electronic scoreboard was installed, and improvements for added comfort were made to the existing seating area and bleachers. The field renovation included better outfield drainage, new decomposed granite pathways, landscaping and irrigation. Completion date was October 25, 2001.

The project's Phase two was at the upper and mid levels. At the eastern tip of Marchbank Park is a new pre-fabricated clubhouse (which replaced an 80-year-old structure), complete with a kitchen, multi-purpose room and office, and restrooms. The area also has three new reconfigured basketball courts, a tetherball court and amphitheater seating, as well as new landscaping and irrigation system.

The middle level is comprised of a new picnic area with barbeque tables, play equipment, improved irrigation system, and a new ADA ramp access from North Parkview Avenue. Work was completed early June 2002.