The New Harvey Milk Plaza
 

 
 
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The Plaza

Imagine Yourself at the New Harvey Milk Plaza

Imagine a welcoming, inclusive and inspirational place that tells the story of Harvey Milk, and the civil rights movement he ignited, in a way that connects what Harvey stood for to the ongoing struggle for civil rights in today’s world. This one-of-a-kind place will capture people’s imaginations by educating them about Harvey’s message, inspiring them to take action in their own lives and communities, on behalf of those who are most vulnerable today. The new plaza will be a beautiful manifestation and continuation of Harvey’s mission.

Harvey understood the community was strongest when we stood united, and this project will strengthen the community by providing an outdoor public space that calls everyone to gather—for performance events, speeches, community gatherings, learning, socializing—and of course, for activism.

At the quieter end of the site, there will also be a grove of eleven trees that symbolize the eleven months that Harvey served in public office. From time to time, it is envisioned that this grove will also be the location of small gatherings, at times of celebration and remembrance.

 

The Journey

(Entries are in reverse chronological order, so that most recent information about the design is near the top of the page.)

May – august 2019: updated schematic Design Revealed

The community had their first look at the updated schematic design drawings on May 19, 2019, at the Harvey Milk Plaza Celebration, a special event held to coincide with the annual Harvey Milk Day commemorative events. The public is also invited to view and discuss the schematic design at two Community Open House events, to be held on June 6 and August 1 as part of the Castro Art Walk. See the Events page for more information.

 

December 2018: PHASE I REVIEW by SF arts Commission - civic design committee

In mid-December, the project received Phase I approval from the SF Arts Commission Civic (SFAC) Design Review Committee. The community moved closer than ever before to seeing their vision of honoring Harvey Milk become real! This most recent effort, which began with two community visioning sessions in January 2017 and continued over the course of four community meetings in 2018, produced a schematic design that could move forward through the approvals process and continued development.

Features of the reimagined plaza include:

  • The stairs to the Muni Station will still be moved slightly west, increasing gathering space near the iconic intersection of Castro and Market. Overhead will be a sculptural element, the design of which will be determined by a team of artists and architects.

  • The elevator being installed by SFMTA in the first phase of construction is to have four stops, instead of the three originally proposed by SFMTA.

  • The recessed landscape area near Collingwood will be raised to reduce problem behavior that exists there today. The five trees currently there will become a grove of 11 trees, which will symbolize the 11 months that Harvey served in public office.

  • There will be public space near the middle of the site, allowing the plaza to become better integrated into the fabric of the Castro neighborhood through activation by community groups.

  • Underground, commuters and visitors will be greeted by an art- and exhibit-filled “gateway” experience that will welcome all to the historic Castro neighborhood and  inspire them with Harvey's enduring message of Hope.

 

OCtober 2018: Initial Review by SF arts Commission - civic design committee

At this informational meeting, the commissioners were generally in approval, but expressed concern about the occupiable canopy element that was proposed to cover the stairs and escalator that lead to the station below. As a result, this area underwent extensive reconsideration over the next few months.

 

TODAY: THE EXISTING PLAZA

Today, the space known as Harvey Milk Plaza is a sunken entrance to the Castro Street MUNI station. It was designed in the early 1970s, when Harvey was serving as the “Mayor of Castro Street”, and was never intended to represent someone as significant as Harvey Milk, who was assassinated while it was still under construction. The plaza was named for Harvey Milk in 1985, and since then, the public has longed to see it transformed into a place that captures his spirit; a place that embodies his passion to bring people together and see that all are treated with dignity and given voice at the tables of influence.

The plaza today. The decades-old design, which was never designed to represent Harvey Milk, offers insufficient gathering space for the community and has numerous design deficiencies that are making worse behavioral issues for the neighbors. Since 1995, the community has been working to reimagine the plaza.

The plaza today. The decades-old design, which was never designed to represent Harvey Milk, offers insufficient gathering space for the community and has numerous design deficiencies that are making worse behavioral issues for the neighbors. Since 1995, the community has been working to reimagine the plaza.

 
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You gotta give ‘em hope.

“I ask for the movement to continue, because my election gave young people out there hope. You gotta give ‘em hope.”

— Harvey Milk, The Hope Speech, 1978

 

Join the movement…

None of this is possible without you. Your support is needed to create this place for Harvey so that his story continues to engage and inspire. Please join the movement to ensure that Harvey’s mission will live on–that the story of Hope will continue to be told.

 Join the movement today. Together, we will honor Harvey Milk.