Windmills in San Francisco

SF Northern Windmill

SF Northern Windmill

There are two windmills in San Francisco in beautiful Golden Gate Park.  The Dutch or Northern Windmill is presented here, and the other one is called the Murphy or Southern Windmill.  They were built here in the 1870s and 1880s to pump groundwater for park irrigation.


This side of town was once sand dunes.  When Golden Gate Park was designed some people at the time couldn’t imagine a park could be built on what was nothing but shifting sand.  The windmills were the answer for irrigation.  In 1903 this windmill was completed and pumped 30,000 gallons of water per hour, it was a solution to the high price of purchasing water from the local water company.  Five years later the other windmill was functioning, and pumping an additional 40,000 gallons of water to the park.


Although they were the solution for the park at that time, in 1913 electric water pumps replaced the mills.  Over the years the windmills became defunct and eventually fell into disrepair.


SF Windmill, tulips and poppies

SF Windmill, tulips and poppies

But as it goes in many places around the world, a group of people decided to restore the windmills.  They raised the money and now, a century later, we have a quiet gathering place for tourists, bicyclists, walkers, joggers, and picnickers to enjoy.  While in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I decided to visit the windmill to see if the tulip display was in bloom.


This windmill is a three minute walk from the Great Highway, a thoroughfare that parallels the Pacific Ocean.  Tulips, poppies, monarch butterflies, a white-crowned sparrow, and a fresh ocean breeze joined me on this sunny tour.  And now my blogging buddies have joined me too.  Thank you!


Photos and text:  Jet Eliot


49 thoughts on “Windmills in San Francisco

    • I’m happy you consider it a treasure, dear Nan. Writing this book based in SF has heightened my interests and adventures in SF. Always a treat to hear from you. 😃❤️

  1. What a beauty!! I love windmills. It’s always good to see people caring for them ❤ In Netherlands they look like they were built yesterday! Simply amazing! Thank you for sharing! As usual, a great writing 🙂 Have a lovely day!

  2. With great pleasure I joined you Jet Dear,and I did enjoy the story behind the picturesque windmills and the beautiful glimpse of the red tulips and poppies!As I can see,you’re a great photographer too!
    Have a wonderful and creative week 🙂 ღ

    • I’m delighted you joined in on my trip to the windmill and enjoyed it, dear Doda. I have a nice little point-and-shoot camera with a zoom lens that comes in handy. I hope you, too, are enjoying your week. As always, thank you so much for your visit and comment, it is very much appreciated.

  3. Used to live out on the Great Highway back in the late 60s. Sadly, I never went to see the windmills. It sounds like they were likely in disrepair back then.

    • Yes, I think in the 60s the windmills were a bit of an eyesore; that was about the time that citizens pulled together to figure out how to fund a refurbishing. I am so glad they fixed them up. I think if you were to return, Gunta, you would like them now. The Great Hwy is still great. Thank you! 😀

    • And I am sure you have seen plenty of windmills where you live, Indah; so you would know about the new versus modern ones. Many thanks for stopping by and for your comment. 😀

      • when I left, the office I was working in gave me a book filled with gorgeous San Francisco iconic scenes – sits on my coffee table to this day. I loved living in the city and would walk to work (about 16 blocks) to and from unless it was raining and then I look a trolly car ride home. Great memories and beautiful people.

  4. Love Your text. Thank You. In Finland, we have here and there old traditional windmills also, but not so many than In Holland. I have a lot of photos from them. Many of them are small and mainly they are wooden.

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