San Francisco’s public parks are some of the best in the country, and the Recreation & Parks department has multiple long-term projects underway that we can’t wait to see completed. Most recently, they announced that Chinatown’s historic Portsmouth Square will be moving forward with a major upgrade, as the SF Rec & Parks Commission recently approved the park’s concept design.
The $66M Portsmouth Square Improvement Project has been on the docket since 2013, and centers around the removal of a pedestrian bridge on Kearny Street. With the bridge gone, the park will gain more sunlight and 10,000 square feet of usable space.
The design looks to encourage “multi-generational connections” via a new play structure, adult exercise area, new seating and gathering areas, lighting, landscaping, an outdoor event space, and an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse. SF Rec & Parks says they will be out collecting feedback on the design’s final touches, which include an oral history project and an interpretive program.
Portsmouth Square is widely considered to be “Chinatown’s living room,” and it’s the city’s oldest public square. It’s served as the site of California’s first public school, a refugee camp after the 1906 earthquake, a recreational space for the Chinatown community, and most recently as a food distribution and COVID testing and vaccination site. The square is near and dear to many locals, who often play card games together and listen to live music. Over the past four years, community input was an essential influence for the design.
“Community involvement was incredible and we received so much constructive input,” said SF Rec & Parks General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “There was a lot of enthusiasm from the community for taking down the bridge to create more space for recreation. We are thrilled to be able to move forward with this project and give Chinatown residents the modern oasis they deserve.”
Featured image: @sfrecparks via Instagram