Creating and testing ideas for new public spaces in San Francisco.

Jane Warner Plaza

Jane Warner Plaza / Image by Mark Hogan (Flickr)
Location: 17th St at Castro and Market Streets, San Francisco, CA 94114  show map
Phase I (Pavement to Parks Demonstration): May 2009 – July 2009
Phase II (Pavement to Parks Trial Plaza): May 2010 – August 2013
Phase III (Permanent street closure as part of Castro Street Design and Streetscape Improvement Project): August 2013 – Present


Jane Warner Plaza has graduated from the Pavement to Parks Program and is now a permanent public space!


Phase II

PHASE II (Pavement to Parks Trial Plaza): May 2010 – August 2013

Sponsored By: Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District with Orphan Andy’s Restaurant

Design services pro bono: Seth of Boor Bridges Architecture
Installation service at a reduced cost: Nibbi General Contractors with Friends of the Urban Forest
Planting at a significant discount: Flora Grubb Gardens
Surplus rail & metal: Port of San Francisco

On November 7, 2010, the Plaza called “Castro Commons” was officially dedicated to Jane Warner with a commemorative plaque and a ceremony.  Jane spent two decades keeping the peace in the city’s Castro, Noe Valley and Mission neighborhoods as a San Francisco Patrol Special Police Officer.

After being evaluated for over a year, the Jane Warner was upgraded using grant funds awarded to the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District.  Building off lessons learned during the trial, Seth Boor of Boor Bridges Architecture designed this new space, providing a greater sense of enclosure, more seating, and more greening opportunities. In collaboration with Flora Grubb Gardens, a beautiful palette of low-water, wind tolerant plants have been added, including a variety of palms, olives, and succulents. Seth contributed his design services pro bono while Flora Grubb Gardens provided materials at a significant discount. Paul Cesewski fabricated the movable gates over the unused Muni tracks using surplus rail and other metal donated to the project by the Port of San Francisco.  And finally, Nibbi General Contractors, who installed the concrete planters, provided their services at reduced cost to the CBD.

Special Design Considerations:

The F-Line Streetcar:
One of the most unique features of the plaza is the presence of the historic Muni F-Line streetcar trains. The colorful trolleys provide a unique kinetic element to the space as they turn the corner and head down Market Street and onward to Fisherman’s Wharf. The plaza now serves as a pedestrian friendly terminus to this route and creates a much more welcoming front door to the world-famous Castro neighborhood. From the plaza, visitors riding the F-line can now comfortably disembark the trolley without worry of speeding traffic, orient themselves, snap a photo with the landmark Pride Flag or Castro Theatre marquee in the background, and set off on an exploration of the Castro neighborhood.

Emergency & Tunnel Access:
In addition to normal emergency access for buildings along 17th Street – the plaza’s design had to address a number of unique emergency access challenges. In the event of a major emergency, currently unused tracks on 17th Street may need to be put into service by safety personal to enter tunnels into the City’s subway system. The plaza’s design team worked carefully with Muni and the Fire Department to ensure that the design did not impede access. Hard to move granite benches were sited outside these access routes. All other objects located in the plaza were designed to be easily moveable in the event of an emergency.

Public Activation:
The Castro CBD (Community Benefit District) worked closely with the City to do public outreach and has taken on the responsibility of managing and activating the plaza. In addition to special events planned by the CBD, the plaza’s moveable seating allows for a wide flexibility of use. From the morning till late evening dozens of people can be found using the space to people watch, relax, walk their dog, meet a friend, or enjoy a bite to eat.

The City closely monitored the success of the plaza to help inform future plans for additional Pavement to Parks projects.


Phase I

PHASE I (Pavement to Parks Demonstration): May 13, 2009 – April 2010

Sponsored By: Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District with Orphan Andy’s Restaurant
Construction: May 10 – May 12, 2009
Estimated Cost (Including Labor): $20,000

Design and Installation: Public Architecture
Materials: Pacific Fiber Tube, Inc.
Community Outreach, Monitoring, and Evaluation:  Great Streets Project of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition



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