In San Francisco, a few months ago, there is a new park overlooking the hills overlooking the ocean: it is called Francisco Park and, besides being enchanting from a landscape point of view, it represents a precious testimony for the history of the local community.
Located in the residential district of Russian Hill, one of the most evocative points of the city overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and Ghirardelli Square, the new Francisco Park was inaugurated in April 2022.
The transformation of the park was made possible mainly by a partnership between the Department of Recreation and the San Francisco Parks and the non-profit organization Francisco Park Conservancy . Neighborhood residents raised $ 27.5 million for the construction and maintenance of the park after the San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks purchased the land for $ 9.9 million. dollars from the Public Utilities Commission in 2014.
It is the largest green space built in the urban center of the Californian city from 1983 to today: not of little importance, considering that the geographical map of San Francisco (city) covers an area of 121.46 km².
The memory of a precious asset
In the 4.5 hectares of the Francisco Park, everything is devoted to the awareness of resources as it is written in the DNA of the territory that hosts it. In fact, the space was born on the ashes of what was for decades the first water reserve of the city, built in 1859 and abandoned in a state of disuse in 1940.
The fact that this new space has inherited the place of the former 'Francisco Reservoir' is much more than a nostalgic nod to the history of the city: water in those years was an ultra-precious than current with the present day. It is leitmotiv that guided the entire redevelopment project: every corner of the park is a tribute to the consideration of this vital source, inviting the user to take it into account and to visit the green spaces by practicing behaviors virtuous.
The reserve was built in 1859 to respond adequately to the sudden population boom that characterized the years of the 'rush for gold' and the subsequent discovery of the silver deposit in Comstock. A water field that could meet not only the needs of the city itself, but also the larger area of San Francisco Bay.
It was then dropped into disuse with the inauguration of a new structure, just a block away, more modern and destined to replace the original: the Lombard Reservoir.
Entering from one of the side entrances, precisely from Hyde Street, it is fascinating to be able to observe still today a section of the wall and the historic brick floor that characterized the deposit.
Because it is only reborn today
Francisco Park was only inaugurated in 2022, but with a very concrete and well-defined objective: to bring people back to contact with nature in the midst of the urban frenzy, after long periods of devotion to the home due to Covid 19.
"The pandemic has shown us how important access to green space is for the development of our communities and, as San Francisco continues to grow, we must ensure that everyone has access to public parks," the mayor London Breed said during the inauguration.
After the various lockdowns and a clear change in lifestyle in San Francisco (the streets are much more devoted to cycle and pedestrian travel for example), this inaugurated park has become the symbol of attentive everyday life and in a certain way also relaxed (it is not unusual to notice new mothers, alone, with children in the pram, strolling in the early morning).
A project (also) by landscape architecture
The landscape architecture with which it presents itself is interesting: the glance is certainly to be attributed to the immense, sudden, semi-hilly green spot at the foot of the classic skyscrapers alternating with the Victorian-style houses typical of San Francisco. The landscape architect, biologist and territorial planning expert Paul Kephart (RANA Cohabitat) designed it. With 30 years of industry experience, Paul is the creator of the Living Roof at the California Academy of Sciences and the concept design for Salesforce Transit Center Park, to name a few of his most iconic designs.
"I would like this park to become a place of well-being and healing. A place to reconnect with nature and a safe place to walk, listen, play, meet people and enjoy the outdoors. But also a place of peace for animal species - from small birds to butterflies of all kinds. It can be a place where friends and family gather and also a place where children can be in contact with the green, learning to know the plants, always enjoying the wonderful views over the bay "says Paul Kephart.
But to characterize the area is also the long curved and raised walkway on several levels (still under expansion), which crosses the entire park: the pavement of the same once again takes up the texture of the original Reservoir.
The mood with which the visitor is invited to enjoy the park is interesting and well intertwined with the structures of the areas: commemorative plaques are positioned at a distance of a few meters from each other, along the entire route. and informative at the same time. The perception is precisely that of walking on a terrain steeped in history and social evolution.
Another example of an invitation to a respectful experience are the bathrooms: of public and free use, with a minimal but well-kept structure, they explain to the user through special writings how and from where the water is recovered for drainage. toilet and sinks. The key word at Francisco Park is: consciousness .
Inside the park there is also a community garden, a shared garden of vegetables and flowers, named after Maria Manetti Shrem - Florentine philanthropist who has lived in San Francisco for years.