Open Shutter to the Past: San Francisco in Pictures – Steinhart Aquarium (1925)

Visitors to Golden Gate Park Looking at the Seal Pool at the Steinhart Aquarium

Welcome back to Photo Friday – my little way of taking a break from San Francisco Real Estate and instead blogging about our great City’s past instead. All photos are published with permission from the San Francisco History Center and San Francisco Public Library.

I have got to say, I have been jonesing for the grand re-opening of the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.  I miss the Academy of Sciences.  The photo above shows the Steinhart Aquarium in 1925 with the former seal pool that used to be outside the entrance – and yes, there really were actual seals in there! 

Long after the seal pool was gone, and the Academy of Sciences had a facelift (in the late 1960’s) it became one of the many San Francisco backdrops for my childhood experiences.

Back when the world felt really big and I felt really small, the giant dinosaur would greet me inside the front entrance.  I’d wander around touching giant crystals and spying from a distance into the alligator pool.  I remember being in awe at the animal exhibits (I didn’t realize that they were stuffed dead animals at the time) and remember watching the sea mammals in their tank for what seemed like hours at a time.   It was a world of discovery for me!

As I got older though, the Academy of Sciences and the Steinhart Aquarium changed for me.  The dinosaur that used to greet me disappeared, the stuffed dead animals gave me the heeby-jeebies, the alligators didn’t look so scary.  And the sea mammals – well, I just felt sad when I realized how tiny their enclosure really was!  I had gotten bigger, and the Academy of Sciences must have gotten smaller along with the rest of the world around me.  I stopped going there all together except for an occasional show at the Laserium. 

Then in 2005, when I realized the place was going to get a complete overhaul, I knew I had to go and say goodbye to the place in my memories.  It was great for a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but I didn’t feel the least bit sad that the place was going to look nothing like my old memories.  Times had changed, science had changed, and it was time for the Academy of Sciences to change too.

And now, the grand-reopening of the Academy of Sciences is right around the corner!  This fall, the doors will open, and I will be there to make sure that I collect a whole new set of memories there!  And in the meantime, I’ll have to find other ways to keep myself entertained in San Francisco. 

If my nostalgic little trip wasn’t enough of a history lesson for you, Wikipedia has a pretty decent background on the Academy of Science’s history for you. 

For now – I’ll be crossing off the days until the Academy of Sciences finally opens!

Luba