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Rediscovering the heart of Golden Gate Park.

The heart of Golden Gate Park, the Music Concourse, is the site of the park's earliest buildings and now some of its latest changes.

The range of activities in this area is good reason to discover or revisit San Francisco's biggest city park. Here you can listen to a concert at the new bandstand (starting this month with a July Fourth rouser), take a free guided tour of the Japanese Tea Garden, or catch the new exhibition at the California Academy of Sciences. When last fall's big earthquake cracked the concourse's band shell, some feared the end of a 108-year-old tradition of free concert-band performances on the site. Fortunately, it continues on a temporary stage and acoustics, ironically, are better (experts say the old shell has some acoustic design flaws). Repair of the 90year-old pavilion awaits funding.

Hour-long concerts are held at I Pm. Thursdays, May through October; 2-hour Sunday concerts run year-round, also beginning at 1. Upcoming Sunday offerings range from Bastille Day with Basque dancing (July 15) to an AIDS walkathon concert (July 22). And at I Pm. on July 4, a patriotic program is planned. The Japanese Tea Garden offers free hour-long garden tours at 2 from May through October on the second, fourth, and fifth Sundays of the month Garden entry costs $2, $1 seniors and ages 6 through 12; hours are 9 to 6:30 daily.

Across the concourse, life before man The new Life Through Time exhibition at the Academy of Sciences takes you on a 3 1/2-billion-year journey, from early life in the sea to the dinosaur age and mammals' beginnings.

The show, which opened June 9, creates a wondrous landscape inhabited by creatures no man ever saw. Scientists and artists have translated fossil remains into life-size models of little-known creatures, giving them shape and coloring, and accessories such as skin, hair, feathers, and claws.

Just beyond the entrance, a cutaway of Earth's crust is studded with real fossils; magnifying glasses positioned over them help you see details. Computers let you trace the genealogy of today's animals. Then you walk through dawn in an ancient swamp with giant club moss, giant tree ferns, and calamite trees. Foot-long dragonflies hover menacingly, an automated 3-foot scorpion poises to strike, and home-plate-size spiders lurk in the duff. The Age of Dinosaurs diorama shows a redwood forest some 120 million years ago. Here, man-size, meat-eating dinosaurs reach out with claws extended; overhead the quetzalcoatius (like a pterodactyl) unfurls its wings 30 feet tip to tip. The academy is open from 10 to 5 daily; admission is $4, $2 seniors and ages 12 through 17, $1 ages 6 through 11. The Music Concourse can be reached via John F Kennedy Drive (closed to autos on Sundays) or Middle Drive. The 44 O'Shaughnessy bus stops in front of the museum; for Muni bus schedule, call (415) 673-6864.
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Title Annotation:San Francisco
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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