Built in 1910 on 2.5 acres of land in the densely populated North Beach neighborhood, the playground was one of the first constructed by the San Francisco Playground Commission. Formerly known as North Beach Playground, it was renamed in 1981 to honor famed baseball player Joe DiMaggio, who grew up playing softball in the playground. An expanded play area designed by Lizzy Hirsch of San Francisco Public Works opened in 2015, marking the end of a sixteen-year renovation project that upgraded the pool complex and courts, increased permeable surfaces, and eliminated vehicles from a section of Mason Street to create a stepped pedestrian plaza bordering the adjacent North Beach Library.
Opposite the library, elevated beds along the playground’s western edge are densely planted with Mediterranean fan palms, king palms, and masses of drought-tolerant grasses and fescues. Lined by paths, a multi-level turf play area occupies the middle of the park. The larger, lower level, featuring swings, sculptural play elements, and climbing structures, is connected to an upper terrace by a set of slides embedded in grass steps. Totaling half the acreage of the park, tennis courts and a multipurpose field sprawl across the block’s southeastern half. Additional amenities include a clubhouse and indoor pool along Lombard Street, along with bocce courts tucked into the park’s northeast corner near a small grove of olive trees.