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Waterfall falling again, carousel spinning again, new buffalo ... there's news at Golden Gate Park.

Coaxed from sand dunes more than a century ago, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is a forested oasis in the West's most densely populated city. But heavy use and years of neglect have taken their toll on some of the most popular attractions. Even venerable trees were toppling in almost every windstorm.

Recently, work has gotten underway to reverse the trend. This summer, you can see the results of major restoration projects, with more still in process. Here's a rundown on four of the good-as-new attractions, with tips on parking. Take a jacket or sweater (in case of wind of fog) and good walking shoes.

Buffalo Paddock. Fourteen young American bison are new residents. They came from the Durham Meat Company ranch near Casper. Wyoming, to replace nine old and ailing cousins now out to pasture in San Mateo County.

Parking. You can usually find a spot along Kennedy Drive. If not, try the parking lot for the fly-casting pool about a hundred yards south of the paddock.

Huntington Falls. Built in 1894, Huntington Falls once was the jewel of the park. Scheduled to be restored this month to its former glory after 22 years of disuse, the 110-foot waterfall crowns Strawberry Hill, the park's highest point, in the middle of Stow Lake. You can rent a rowboat ($6.50 an hour) and view the falls from below, or climb te steep stairway flanking the cataract to view it close up. (For the falls' official reopening date, telephone 415/558-4268.)

From the topmost bridge, look east to the twin spires of St. Ignatius Church, downtown skycrapers, and on clear days Mount Diablo, 30 miles away.

Parking. You can usually park behind the boathous and along the road ringing Stow Lake, even on Sundays. At the northeastern tip of the lake, a footpath leads to the Japanese Tea Garden and Music Concourse a few hundred feet away.

Carousel. For years, the 1912 HerschellSpillman carousel suffered from neglect. Water dripping from the leaky roof caused dry rot. Due to low budgets, maintenance meant a quick spray-paint job over the handcarved horses, giraffes, ostriches, and other menagerie members.

After a seven-year effort, artist Ruby Newman and crew have brought the ride back to life. the out-facing sides of the animals are now delightfully decorated with glass jewels, carved gladiators or maidens riding the flanks of horses, and humorous surprises such as red swimming trunks on a green frog.

The carousel operates 10 to 5 daily starting June 30. A ride costs 50 cents.

Parking. The Children's Playground has a small lot offf Bowling Green Drive, but it's often full on weekends. Best weekend bets are the Kezar Stadium lot inside the park boundary at Stanyan and Beulah streets ($1.50 a day), and the UCSF Medical Center lot (75 cents an hour) 3 blocks south on Parnassus Avenue near Third Avenue. Both are open 24 hours a day.

Sharon Building. Across from the carousel, this 96-year-old structure was just an empty shell after a 1974 fire. Now, restored, it's one of San Francisco's best remaining examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. Carefully worked sandstone masonry gives weight and texture to the building. Columned arches frame nearly every door and window--a trademark of this style.

Originally a resting place for mothers and children, the Sharon Building now houses classes in ceramics, jewelry, leaded glass, drawing, chinaware painting, and Chinese brush painting: call (415) 558-4394.

Parking. Follow advice for the carousel.

Reforestation, an arboreal imperative In 1979, the shocking discovery that nearly 20 percent of the park's trees were dead or dying spurred officials to start a vigorous reforestation program. Planted at roughly the same time, many of the Monterey cypress, pine eucalyptus, acacias, and tea trees have all been growing old together.

Over the past four years, gardeners have removed old and diseased trees and planted more than 4,000 new ones, most in the western two-thirds of the park.

Much work remains, especially in areas not visible from roads. For example, De Laveaga Dell, between the carousel area and the De Young, is a neglected jungle of weeds, fallen trees, and standing water.

To help in preservation efforts, you can join Friends of Recreation and Parks, McLaren Lodge, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco 94117; (415) 221-1311. They offer free guided park walks on weekends. To reach Golden Gate Park from westbound 1-80, swing onto northbound U.S. 101 and exit on Fell Street. From I-280 or northbound State 1, follow 19th Avenue to the park. Southbound on U.S. 101, cross Golden Gate Bridge and take the 19th Avenue exit to the park. To avoid parking problems, you can ride a bus; call 673-MUNI for routes.
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Date:Jul 1, 1984
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