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 trees where evocative art and verdant landscaping will invite visitors to reconnect with the essential ingredient that connects each of us to Harvey’s story—hope. From time to time, it is envisioned that this grove will also be the location of small gatherings, at times of celebration and remembrance.
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. Since the plaza was named for Harvey in 1985, 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.
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.
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. After decades of discussion and attempts, the community is now 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 can now move forward through the approvals process and continued development.
Here are some features of the reimagined plaza:
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.
May/June 2019: updated schematic Design Revealed
The updated schematic design drawings will be revealed at two events—a Harvey Milk Plaza Celebration to coincide with the annual Harvey Milk Day events on May 19, 2019, and a Community Open House to be held on June 6, 2019. More about these events can be found on our Events page.
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.