Market Street serves as the primary artery of San Francisco serving to filter hoards of pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars through its corridor. Despite the daily quarter of a million people using transit, over 200,000 pedestrians walking its corridor, and thousands of cyclists on the street, Market continues to fall short as a destination point for public space. There is call for Market to possess more of a civic appeal rather than be branded as the city hallway in which flocks of people briskly walk to escape the unpleasant chaos of retail and urine saturated transit hubs.
In response, the city is initiating a revitalization plan for Market Street in attempt to cultivate a sense of community and culture in the form of art installations, performances, green spaces, and dedicated bicycle and transit facilities. This vision is even looking to extend to the surrounding architecture on ground level to further solidify the public realm. The plan is called “The Better Market Street Program.” Driven heavily by community and city engagement, the program is reaching to the insight of local communities and Bay Area residents both in person and through digital platforms. Open workshops provide the opportunity for people to provide feedback on Market Street’s fate, while on the technology side, individuals can review current design proposals virtually and give input via social media platforms. The three objectives of Market Street’s facelift encompass:
- Cultivating a sense of place in sustainable designs;
- Holding space for sustainable mobility which is efficient and reliable;
- And promoting economic development.
Along with the Better Market Street Project, the planning department is working to hold a Prototyping Festival asking individuals, businesses, and nonprofits to submit design proposals on how to recreate thirty-six blocks of Market Street. The designs must develop public space which engages people while providing alternative perspective on the concept of city streets and open space. These designs will then be put to test by the public before their final realization. The ideas are endless from street furniture and green hangouts to digital way finding stations and other installations directed to make technology more accessible to larger demographics.
One example currently in place on Market Street is an installation through the LIZ (Living Innovations Zones) program called PAUSE. It serves as an interesting juxtaposition in the conflicted world of technology. It is meant to create a sense of place within the chaos of downtown while pulling the typical tech-zombie from their device to interact with their surroundings. Musical seating is set into play due to hand holding between individuals, while two “whisper disks” placed across from each other have sparked numerous impromptu music performances and conversations between strangers. Even a cell phone charging station activated by pedaling is integrated.
If successful, the revitalization of Market will potentially create connection between public spaces, reintegrate the street within the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as re-imagine the city center as a cultural and social destination. A retail crazed street dubbed San Francisco’s cultural go-to may seem amusing to some due to the city’s vast number of vibrant neighborhoods, but the appeal of a more beautiful and connected Market Street is impossible to disregard. With the help of workshops and technological accessibility, Bay Area communities have the influence to revitalize their city’s center.
Will these revitalization plans work to revive a new Market Street? And how will technology ultimately link into the system?
Credits: Images by Lauren Golightly. Data linked to sources.