UN Plaza is named after the United Nations, whose charter was signed in San Francisco, just two blocks away. Fulton Street at Hyde Streets were closed to create this 2.5-acre pedestrian space in the 70s as a part of the Market Street Reconstruction Project which coincided with building of the Market Street BART stations in San Francisco. UN Plaza is in the Mid-Market neighborhood and the meeting point for complex and diverse neighborhoods: Tenderloin, Civic Center, South of Market, and Union Square.
In 2014, we received funding through the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) to identify the most successful strategies to activate UN Plaza. We partnered with Neighorland to engage the community to answer a simple question “What will make UN Plaza a better place?” Hundreds of people joined the conversation online and on-site and helped identify most popular types of performance arts for the community – concerts, games, outdoor movies, and plaza workouts.
We contracted MJM Management to create a unique event series in response to community priorities. We also placed a focus on local artists and programming for kids and families. We partnered with local artists like Joanna Haigood, the Alonzo King Lines Ballet, and attractions like the Come Out and Play Festival to engage neighbors to the plaza from Civic Center, North of Market, Tenderloin and SOMA districts. We launched our free event series “Pause, Play, Connect” and held 18 events between August and October 2014.
Early 2015, we received more funds from OEWD to continue the series and activate the plaza once every week. With more funding available we are activating the plaza every Friday till Sep 4th, 11am and 2 pm, by bringing out moveable furniture and Sunset Pianos for people to enjoy.
We are currently working to analyze the impact of this project using intercept and observational surveys and are currently writing a report and resource guide to inform future investments in the plaza.