29 June 2013

One Day Left for 2nd Transbay Poll

There's only one day left, really 1 1/2 days left for the 2nd Transbay Tube poll on deciding where it should go for BART (or standard gauge BART) in San Francisco's SoMa District. Comments, feedback and responses to the poll have been great. Already, 80 votes have come in. Hitting a symbolic 100 votes would be nice.

Polls close at midnight on July 1 (i.e. end of Sunday). So vote now for the alignment you think best serves San Francisco's future.

Your poll options are:

  • Mission Powell
  • Folsom Powell
  • Townsend/King 9th 
  • 16th St - 7th St
The route of the Townsend/King option has been improved a bit so that it allows for transfers with Civic Center Station. The line turns up 9th Street to Geary instead of down Division and up South Van Ness. A Division St/Showplace Square station is still possible. Maps of each line on its own follow.

I've also added in where possible stations would go, but by no means are these meant to be precise locations. Just ideas.

28 June 2013

Image of the Week: SoMa from NoMa

Where: View of SoMa from up high in the Financial District
When: June 2013
What: One Rincon is seen along with it's rising brother, and a whole bunch of ships "parked" in the bay. Also note the construction of the Transbay Center in the lower part of the image. Pier 70 with several gray ships docked can be seen in the distance.
Comment: The view north from here showing the Transamerica Pyramid gets much more love. I find this image more fascinating if less scenic.
Related Posts: Uncrooking San Francisco's Crookedest Tunnel (although only marginally related).

27 June 2013

Mercado Plaza - Bartlett St Redesigned

Take part in the redesign of one of the Mission's most blighted yet promising street blocks. Tomorrow the San Francisco Planning Department will be presenting its "Final Design" of Mercado Plaza at Bartlett Street. This is where the Bartlett Street Farmer's Market happens. Here's your chance to see what's happening so you don't get "surprised" by the changes that you will "love", "hate", or "don't really care either way".

First an announcement, then a review of the Mercado Plaza Plan for Bartlett Street.

Bartlett Mercado Plaza Open House
View the final design for the redesign of Bartlett Street, which includes a flexible public space to support the farmers market, other public gatherings and for its everyday design.

Thursday, June 27, 2013, TODAY!
6:00-7:30 PM

The Women’s Building
3543 18th Street (between Valencia and Guerrero)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Planning Department's Bartlett Mercado Plaza. Image: San Francisco Planning Department
The Mission is a vibrant, warm weathered, multi-cultural neighborhood that has a lot of nice streets and areas. However, one block in particular leaves a lot to be desired. Bartlett Street between 22nd and 21st Streets is an extra wide street with horrible street vibe, especially with the parking garages stark wall on its west side. Luckily the Mission Community Market, also known as the Bartlett Street Farmers Market has brightened up not just the street but the neighborhood every Thursday since 2010.

Building on the market's success and a real need to improve the street, the San Francisco Planning Department has embarked on the Mercado Plaza Plan to redesign the street to make it better for the market, for other new events, and on a regular day or evening.

The question is whether the new design will create a more inviting and better street on non-market and non-event days. In addition, will the curb-to-curb street width be narrowed enough to slow traffic or will other non-pedestrian oriented departments prevail with one-size fits all of the state street width (read suburban wide street designed for maximum fire department control) that could in fact increase traffic risks, especially to pedestrians.
Mercado Plaza Design (looking north) at night. Image: SF Planning Dept.

21 June 2013

Image of the Week: Ferry City

Where: Eminönü from Galata Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey
When: January 2005
What: Istanbul's ferries: (from left to right) 2 vapeurs (steamers), a tourist boat, a IDO catamaran. The New Mosque is to the right.
Comment: Istanbul is the greatest ferry city in the world.
Related Posts: Great Harbor Matchups: Golden Horn vs. Golden Gate, A Bridge Too Tall


19 June 2013

Poll: Where should BART go in SoMa?

Talk of building a second Transbay Tube must have started the day BART opened the "First" Transbay Tube in 1974. Now with BART's escalating ridership and the construction of the Transbay Transit Center, talk of a second tube under the bay has begun - at least in some circles.

So where should a Second Transbay Tube go once it arrives in San Francisco? The general dialogue, from both BART (with option 1 and option 2) and SPUR, has focused on bringing it into the South of Market neighborhood. Other dialogue has focused more on connection to the Transbay Terminal, which is important, but not specifically what we're discussing in this post. But where exactly should it go? Many different needs and potential opportunities arise with aligning a new rail line. I've created a poll to get feedback from you the readers, to see where you think a new BART line should go.

Note the Poll is NOW CLOSED. To see the results, read my post, "Evenly Split..."

Please cast your votes on the ballot in the column to the right, near the top of the web page. 
Note that the poll can only be accessed from a computer or by the full web page on a mobile device. It's not accessible through the mobile version of the web site. Please make your voice heard in comments. Also, please excuse the misspelling of the word "further". I've tried to edit the word, but Blogger won't let me even edit the question since people have begun to vote in the poll. If you're a fan of the 3rd Street Union Sq alignment, please say so in comments. 

The map below shows the basic alignments: Essentially from San Francisco Bay (south of the existing Transbay Tube) and eventually through to Geary Street at Van Ness.

I've added a second map showing other alignments mentioned in comments or on Twitter, plus the Folsom Van Ness alignment presented by BART several years ago. You can see them in the same map form at the end of the post, after the break.

The choices are (from north to south):
  • Mission Powell
    • Follow Mission Street in SoMa
    • Cross Market St at the Powell St Station
    • Follow Geary St through the Tenderloin and further west
  • Folsom Powell
    • Follow Folsom Street in SoMa
    • Cross Market St at the Powell St Station
    • Follow Geary St through the Tenderloin and further west
  • Townsend Division
    • Follow Townsend Street in SoMa and northern edge of Mission Bay
    • Follow Division St and 12th St through Showplace Sq, West SoMa and Northeast Mission
    • Cross Market St on Van Ness Ave  at the Van Ness Muni Station
    • Turn west at Geary St
  • Third St Union Square
    • Follow Third Street in SoMa
    • Cross Market at the Third/Kearny/Geary intersection
      • Transfers to Market St at a Union Square/Market St/Powell St Station
    • Follow Geary St through the Tenderloin and further west
  • 16th St - 7th St
    • Follow 16th Street through Mission Bay
    • Turn north up 7th Street passing by Potrero Hill, Mission Bay, Showplace Square and SoMa
    • Cross Market at Civic Center Station
    • Turn west on Geary St at Van Ness Ave

14 June 2013

Image of the Week: Wooden Bays

Where: 3500 19th Street at Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA, USA
When: June 10, 2013
What: new housing with ground floor retail to come
Comment: looks better than I expected from the renderings. Nice touch with wood to make the generic SF boxed bay window apartment form more attractive. Hope it ages well.
Related Posts: Construction shots (Oct 2012), Renderings and images of parking lot before construction (Jun 2012), building was made by same folks who did 700 Valencia with Farina Pizza
Also see SF.Curbed's post on the place describing how the site went through a lot of environmental reviews (why?).

13 June 2013

The Geography of Taksim Square

You may have heard in the news over the past few weeks that protests against the government are going on in Turkey. They began and continue at Taksim Square in Istanbul and have spread to other large cities like Ankara and Izmir. Taksim Square is the major urban square of Istanbul, much like San Francisco’s Union Square. Beside it lies Gezi Park, one of the rare pieces of green parkland in Istanbul, a city of 12 million+ citizens.
 View of Taksim Square looking southeast. Features include (clockwise)  Gezi Park (lower left), eastern end of Taksim Square including Bus Transfer Center with green buses, Ataturk Cultural Center (big box center left), Marmara Hotel (tall building center), Ataturk Monument (green circle), Istiklal Street (leading away from Ataturk Monument), and western part of Taksim Square with Ataturk Monument. 
Note the smallish parking lot on lower right. When I visited the square with Turkish friends, we would often park the car here. 
In the distance you have the Boshorous to the left with the Asian side of Istanbul. To the right you have the Golden Horn. The blocky buildings breaking the skyline over there are the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in Historic Istanbul.
Taksim Metro Station entrance from the square. The crane is there for construction of the Kabataş Funicular.
The Ataturk Cultural Center is in the background. Image: Brian Stokle/Urban Life Signs
The protests began with a small group defending the park from bulldozers that would tear up the park and eventually replace it with a shopping mall and cultural center. Due to the outsized police response with tear gas and force, the protest has blossomed into more of a political revolt by Turkey’s urban secularists against the culturally conservative Prime Minister Erogan (ehr-doh-wahn).
Protests at Taksim Square's Ataturk Monument. Image: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images
Taksim Project including Barracks Shopping Mall (large red roofed square building (left),  and expanded plaza with streets moved underground (right).
When the protests began I knew that there was a major Taksim Project that included undergrounding the streets, enlarging the square’s plaza, but I knew less about the park being replaced with a shopping mall. In this post I want to primarily cover the geography and uses of Taksim Square today and go over the proposed under construction Taksim Project including the controversial shopping mall.
Taksim Project image. Note street approaching plaza (center bottom) that ducks into a tunnel.
You can learn more about the reasons for the initial protest here and here, and about a previous protest to protect a historic movie theatre that was to be demolished and rebuilt as a, you guessed it, a shopping center. There is much about the blossoming of the protest which you can read about here and here. You can learn more about the Taksim Army Barracks and the history of the square at labkultur.tv.
In a later post I hope to answer some questions including: How did a basic protest to defend a public space blossom into a national protest? Why would the fight over a park and public square be the catalyst for a national protest? And what does this say about our public spaces and how people and governments communicate and decide what to do with them? But for now, let’s look at the current square and the proposed future square.

Geography of Taksim Square

Taksim Square is best known to Western tourists for its concentration of hotels, location at the end of Istanbul’s major shopping street, Istiklal Street, and being the northern terminus of a historic streetcar that runs down Istiklal Street between Taksim Square and Tünel Square near the Golden Horn.
Taksim Square is located in central Istanbul, situated north of the Golden Horn and the historic peninsula with the Hagia Sophia, and west of the Bosphorus strait. Istanbul’s central business district lies to the north as does an upper middle class shopping and residential neighborhood. The square as a whole comprises the following as shown in the map below:
  • Three public plazas (let’s call them Ataturk Plaza, Metro Plaza and Post Office Plaza)
  • Gezi Park itself (aka Taksim Gezi Park), 
  • A major municipal bus transfer center
  • An Ataturk monument (situated in Ataturk Plaza). 
  • Bisecting all of these elements is a series of very congested streets and boulevards.
Taksim Square including Gezi Park. Map by Urban Life Signs; base map: Google Maps
Taksim Square PROJECT including Barracks Shopping Center. Map by Urban Life Signs; base map: Google Maps.

Taksim Square: Gezi Park (left), bus transit center (center), Post Office Plaza (lower left, above all the taxis), Metro Plaza (center right), and Ataturk Plaza (lower right).
Note the tracks of the historic streetcar circling the landscaped Ataturk Monument.

05 June 2013