Exploring Public Private Open Spaces in San Francisco

An old post office designed by the great Willis Polk is now an art gallery and lunch spot as an adjunct to the tower at 55 Second Street

Most of our hikes are in nature or at least out of doors. But thanks to a law in the City requiring large downtown commercial developments to include open space that is open to the public, a fine hike can be enjoyed by walking from lobby to lobby and from rooftop terrace to “sun terrace.”

Dave Weinstein led such a “Popos” tour on February 15, in alliance with the Albany senior Center and Friends of Five Creeks.

We didn’t quite get to every rooftop or hidden garden we had aimed for, but it was fun nonetheless. It’s great how some of these mysterious gardens are hidden away. City law requires that office towers display signs announcing that these spaces exist. But you have to look carefully to spot them.

More than 30 people went on the hike and our hike leader only lost a grouping of them once. We did manage to reunite quickly.

Many are relaxing places well used by office workers for lunch. Many are filled with art, including work by important artists (Sol LeWitt, Ugo Rondinone).

New Popos (it stands for “privately owned public open spaces”) are opening every day thanks to bustling new development. We hope to do a variant of this hike later on.

505 Howard has strange sculptures and a living wall. Photos by Dave Weinstein

— Dave Weinstein

If you want to go on this hike yourself,  click on the link below for a PDF of our route

Popos Hike route Feb. 15, 2018

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