The cross atop Mt. Davidson was erected by the resolve and perseverance of the local Christian communities that invested decades in trying to construct a lasting icon of their faith. The following is a chronological history of the cross evolution from a simple, temporary wooden structure to the sturdy, enduring symbol it is today. In 1923, George Decatur, official of the Western Union Telegraph Co., Director of the YMCA, and resident of the Sunset District in San Francisco, organized the first sunrise service, drawing over 5,000 attendees.
Unfortunately in 1931 arsonists burned down the third cross. But in 1933, during the depression, Margaret May Morgan, the first woman to sit on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and others on the Easter Sunrise Committee, solicited $1+ contributions to build a concrete Cross. On March 25, 1934, one week before Easter, Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a golden telegraph key in Washington, D.C. to light up the cross in front of an audience of 50,000.
In 1991, several organizations, including the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, sued the City of San Francisco for owning a cross on city (public) land, and several court battles ensued. Eventually the courts forced the City to either tear down the Cross or sell it to a private entity.
On July 12, 1997, the Council of Armenian-American Organizations of Northern California (CAAONC), a coalition of over 30 Armenian-American Organizations outbid other groups, and purchased the Cross from the City of San Francisco. The sale was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and placed on the ballot as Proposition F. On November 4, 1997, the voters of San Francisco overwhelmingly voted to approve the sale. The CAAONC thus became the legal owner of the Mt. Davidson Cross and assumed the responsibility for maintaining it.
The cross can be seen from all around the city when it is lit up, on Easter and on April 24th, Armenian Genocide Memorial Day.
The CAAONC has put major effort into restoring and renewing the 103 foot cross, and continually monitors and maintains the cross. On the first Saturday of each month, a dedicated group of volunteers organize a clean-up of the Mt Davidson Park immediately surrounding the Mt Davidson Cross property. The Habitat Restoration Work parties are a joint activity between the Natural Areas Program and the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Sierra Club.