Patricia's Green in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2013

In 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake shook San Francisco. It took 63 lives and thousands of people were left homeless. Bay Bridge collapsed and large stretch of the raised highway. Central Freeway ending up in Hayes valley and cutting this neighbourhood in half was declared unstable and dangerous and it was removed. 23 years later "scar" is still clearly visible. On the map bellow red is marking the position of the freeway before removal and green is location of this urban square.

It's official city name is "Patricia's Green" after the neighborhood activist Patricia Walkup who persuaded the city to take the Central Freeway down.

We stayed in this neighbourhood and this was our starting point for city explorations, and what a place it was! I was really impressed with Patricia's Green, especially after experiences with public urban squares in other US cities. While searching for information I stumbled upon this article perfectly describing the space from the local perspective: "After reading Jane Jacobs's Life and Death (what urban planning geek hasn't read her masterpiece?), I've come to realize that Hayes Green is picture-perfect textbook urban design when it comes to public parks. It has a multitude of uses (coffee break while shopping, jungle gym for kids, neighborhood gathering point in the center, sunbathers, dogs, homeless, etc.), is active at every hour of every day, and you would never ever feel unsafe in Hayes Green.

I moved into the neighborhood around a month before it opened, so I feel like it's taken a little-getting-used-to, but has shared a growth with me and with the neighborhood."

BUT - it's a highly utilized urban greenspace for ALL citizens of this beautiful City for a multitude of purposes, and it's in the shadow of a former freeway. I can only imagine when Octavia Boulevard gets its famed housing and local retail, that Hayes Green will continue to be a vital crossroads between Hayes Valley, and the glorified freeway on/off ramp of Fell and Octavia." Comment is by Herra Chink for Yelp.

After removal of freeway traffic was directed to Octavia Boulevard [designed as boulevard with tree lines separating heavy traffic form the bicycle dedicated lanes], but best urban planning achievement is creation of the boulevard end, square/park space creating focusing point for the whole neighbourhood. This space reminded us to European squares in Paris or Lisbon. We were told before our visit that San Francisco is most European of all US cities and that is definitely the case.

Patricia's Green has everything expected from really successful urban space, and more – it created community atmosphere rarely seen anywhere in North America and very obviously loved by the local users of all generations. One more element, art peace, almost like temple, called Future's Past, by K. Raudenbush created for the famous "Burning Man community" is transferred here completing the picture.

"In 1992, a portion of San Francisco’s towering double-decked Central Freeway was replaced by the tree-lined Octavia Boulevard and a new public square. The boulevard safely provides space for bicyclists and pedestrians, while slowing traffic exiting the freeway and dispersing it onto the road network without gridlock. Since the conversion, property values have risen, transit trips are up 75%, and retail and restaurants have returned to the neighborhood." PPS - 2013

TIP FOR THE VISITORS: Boulangerie, wonderful breakfast/ coffee place is located here, excellent Lebanese restaurant Hayes & Kebab is half a block away along Hayes Street and in the other direction our favourite French food restaurant Chez Maman. One side of the park is facing best Ice Cream place in the city and unavoidable Blue Bottle Coffee place is just steps away.

Thematic way of "Meandering" Urban Squares is available, please follow the path.

next square >

uses & activities
access & linkages
court yard
tourist value
with park
street, shopping



urban squares initiative by aleksandar janicijevic is licensed under a creative commons attribution-share alike 2.5 canada license.

Last time updated on Friday, January 30, 2015, 4:15 PM