In the heart of the city lies a refuge from the hectic scramble of urban dwelling. An emerald oasis in the dense sea of high rises, houses, and buildings packed like sardines.
Palm trees big and small, jut out from the hilled earth. They stand grouped by their appearances, forming their own cliques. Tall and skinny, short and stubby, upright and diagonal.
This is Dolores Island.
On a sunny afternoon you’ll find people scattered along the lawn, sprawled on tapestries blankets and sheets; forming a living patchwork across the lush expanse of green grass.
Among them yogis, drug peddlers, picnickers, after schoolers, lovers, nappers, friends, artists, dogs, –and their walkers. Stroller pushing moms, joggers, martial artists, those who call the park home.
The central location of Dolores in relation to the city makes it an ideal meeting place.
Pradyum Shroff sits on a sunny bench reading from Steve Jobs’ biography, he’s just moved to the Mission from Berkeley to work for Facebook.
“This place is really cool because it’s like a community gathering area, people from everywhere in the city come and meet with friends because it’s nearby to other places like Castro and Haight,” Shroff says, noting another well known Dolores park perk, “…and they’re pretty lax for drinking.”
On a busy day the park is alive with a buzzing discord. You’ll hear the chiming bells from paleteros beckoning those around for a sweet treat. Inflated chatter and laughter, excited screams from tiny voices on the playground running up and down hills like manic ants.
You’ll hear the mingling of music competing to be heard amid the many broadcasting their personal playlists. Music as varied as the people playing it: reggaeton, trap, r&b, trance. You may even hear a musician, like Eric, who commutes from San Bruno to play his guitar for the mixed masses.
“I like coming here because of all the different people, there’s a laid back vibe…everyone here is just trying to have a good time.”
And there is, a palpable sense of ease, a sort of vacation-mindset flowing through out the park that is contagious. Time seems to slow down and yet before you know it, the sun begins to set. Looking out over the park and the jagged city scape, the foggy gray bay in the distance seems like a mirage.
The hustle and bustle of city living can take a toll on the psyche.
Felipe sits cross legged on an intricately patterned tapestry, heavily bejeweled in layers of colorful beaded stone necklaces and bracelets. Every finger adorned with at least one ring. He comes to Dolores to rest his weary mind.
“I have depression and I come here because it really helps me, just sitting here in the beauty of nature with my thoughts, it’s very peaceful and relaxing.”