In 1887, Hall, who had returned as park superintendent for one year on an unpaid, part-time basis, brought in this promising young Scotsman, John Hays McLaren, to server and train under him as assistant superintendent of the park.
In 1890 McLaren was appointed superintendent of Golden Gate Park – he was to serve as such until his death in 1943 – a period of fifty-three years. Small wonder that, for many years, McLaren referred to Golden Gate Park as “My Park!”
Born in Sterling, Scotland, on December 20, 1846, McLaren was early associated with gardening, in his native country. In 1869, he left for the United States, arriving in San Francisco from New York via the Isthmus of Panama.
He was to leave a lasting mark on the history of his adopted city.
McLaren was first employed in some of the larger estates of the peninsula; by 1887, his skill had attracted the attention of Superintendent Hall who saw to his appointment as his assistant and eventual successor.
The many years of service of the man who came to be known as “Uncle John” McLaren found him loved (as well as, at times, feared) by those who came up against his stubborn and imperious ways.
On balance, McLaren was a definite asset both to the park and to San Francisco and, although he mus share this honor with William H. Hall, in a very real sense the modern Golden Gate Park is McLaren’s monument.