Thursday, June 3, 2010

San Francisco's First Permanent Parklet Completed

San Francisco - Originally closed for traffic safety concerns, the intersection of 17th Street and Castro has seen an almost constant metamorphosis since its closure.  In 2008, temporary Sonitubes (dense fiberboard as formwork in constructing concrete support columns) containing plant material were placed along the perimeter of the intersection, as part of a trial with neighborhood funding.
     Many supporters of the pedestrian plaza, which houses the southern terminus of the historic F streetcar line, fought for a permanent structure throughout 2009.  The neighborhood's longtime need for a common gathering place was within sight.  In late 2009, construction began on what is now seen as a model for reclaiming urban space initially set aside for automobiles.
    The Sonitubes lining the perimeter of the plaza were replaced with large, green earthenware, each with it's own level concrete pad and drainage tube.  Most of the police barracades along Castro Street have been replaced by poured-in-place concrete planters that almost totally enclose the plaza from traffic at Market and Castro Streets.
     The planters are brimming with succulents and palms of seemingly endless variety, four trees, and pea gravel as soil cover.  The ground surface of the plaza has been coated with fine grained gravel, which helps with traction in an area peppered with streetcar rails and high volumes of foot traffic.  Over a dozen stainless steel tables and chairs round out the design.
     On any given afternoon you'll find this plaza a bustling center for tourists, locals, and commuters stopping to rest.  For strolling, take-out dining, or catching some rays while people watching, the 17th and Castro parklet has provided hundreds of those in the Castro a place of their own. 

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