Contact: Shih-Wei Lu, 415-554-6935
San Francisco, CA – Today, two Chinatown celebrations kicked off with colorful performances by spirited lion dancers, commemorating the completion of the Broadway Chinatown Streetscape Project and the Chinatown Living Alley Project on Spofford Street, both aimed to make the busy neighborhood safer and more inviting.
San Francisco Public Works, which managed both streetscape projects, held a small community gathering on Spofford Street, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the corner of Powell and Broadway streets with key supporters, including District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, City Administrator Naomi Kelly and dozens of neighborhood merchants, residents, community leaders and government partners.
The ribbon cutting marked the much-anticipated completion of the last of four phases to improve the bustling Chinatown-North Beach corridor. Stretching from Columbus Avenue to the Robert C. Levy Tunnel, better known as the Broadway Tunnel.
The latest Broadway improvements provide a reconfigured roadway to calm traffic, new concrete sidewalks, freshly planted trees, new bus shelters and curbside bus bulbs to improve boarding, pedestrian-scale lighting and decorative crosswalks.
“Broadway is a street used by everybody – locals live, shop and eat here; visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the restaurants and nightlife; and there are schools that serve our families,” said Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “This collaborative project was challenging, but at the end of the day we have a new streetscape that is safer and more vibrant to better serve this historic neighborhood.”
The Broadway Chinatown project is the result of Public Works’ collaboration with Supervisor Peskin, the Chinatown Community Development Center, San Francisco Planning, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the San Francisco Arts Commission.
“Both the Broadway Streetscape and Spofford Alley Improvements have been community-driven projects, from start to finish,” said Supervisor Peskin, who represents Chinatown and North Beach. “Pedestrian safety and creating vibrant public alleyway connections have been two of my top priorities because they are the community’s priorities. It has required many hours of neighborhood input, dogged attention to construction mitigation and serious city investment but I think the results speak for themselves: It’s all been worth it.”
The Broadway Chinatown project also showcases functional public art. The San Francisco Arts Commission commissioned local artist Michael Arcega to create a series of artful seating elements titled Auspicious Clouds | Heavy Fog. Inspired by images of Chinese clouds found on traditional decorative objects and in paintings and by San Francisco’s famous fog, the cloud-shaped benches were fabricated out of water-jet cut steel welded together to allow for seating on both sides.
Auspicious or lucky clouds have deep symbolic meaning in traditional Chinese culture, Arcega noted. “The cyclical nature of clouds and rain inspires renewal and fluidity. They bring prosperity and vitality. When the viewer is seated, they will appear to be on a cloud,” he said.
“We are delighted that the San Francisco Arts Commission could contribute to this transformative streetscape project with this thoughtful work of art,” said San Francisco Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny.
“The San Francisco County Transportation Authority is a proud funder of the Chinatown Broadway Streetscape project, a long-time effort that began with a community vision and was bolstered by our investment in local transportation sales tax and vehicle registration fee dollars, as well as regional One Bay Area Grant funds,” said Tilly Chang, the authority’s executive director. “We are delighted to have supported all phases of the project, helping to bring critically important pedestrian safety and streetscape enhancements to reality.”
Spofford Street, the historic one-block alleyway bounded by Clay, Washington, Stockton and Waverly streets, benefited from decorative concrete pavers; enhanced lighting and raised crosswalks at both ends to slow vehicles entering the alley; bollards to protect pedestrians from traffic; and bench seating.
Additionally, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spearheaded an innovative green infrastructure project on Spofford aimed to reduce the burden on the City’s aging sewer system.
“We have partnered with Public Works on Spofford Street to install flow-through planters that will capture, treat and absorb approximately 32,000 gallons of stormwater a year – while greening the urban environment,” said Harlan L. Kelly, Jr., general manager of the SFPUC.
Roy Chan, community planning manager for the Chinatown Community Development Center, lauded the two neighborhood improvement projects.
Chan noted that the Broadway project “culminates from more than two decades of community advocacy, input and collaboration with the City to not only reconnect Chinatown to The Embarcadero but ensure Broadway to be a safe and culturally vibrant place for decades to come.” And the Spofford upgrades, he added, provide environmental benefits and improve “a key open space resource that Chinatown residents and merchants depend on every day.”