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IBM's 'Think 2019' conference to shut down portions of SoMa, starting today

IBM's Think conference has closed Howard Street to traffic as of February 7. | Photos: Carrie Sisto/Hoodline
By Carrie Sisto - Published on February 12, 2019.

Many San Franciscans are familiar with the annual arrival of the Dreamforce conference, which shuts down several blocks near the Moscone Center each November, causing massive traffic and transit delays.

But they may not be aware that IBM's Think 2019 is taking over downtown San Francisco this week in a similar fashion, with a conference that will span the Moscone Center and Union Square neighborhoods.

Think 2019 officially launches this evening. But in preparation for the conference, Howard Street between 3rd and 4th streets has been closed off since last Thursday, and will remain shuttered to vehicle traffic through Monday, February 18. (The conference itself will end on Saturday, February 16.)

Map of official venues for the IBM Think 2019 conference. | Image: IBM 

According to the SFMTA, more than 40,000 people are expected to attend Think 2019. Conference activities are taking over all of the currently open Moscone centers (North, South, and West), as well as other SoMa and Union Square venues, like the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Westin St. Francis, and the St. Regis.

The event even affects moviegoers at the AMC Metreon 16, which isn’t screening any films to the public from now through Friday evening, so its theaters can be used as venues for Think events. 

The Metreon's closure will leave many cinephiles without a place to go, since it comes just days after AMC permanently shuttered its other large downtown theater, the AMC Van Ness 14.

The AMC Metreon will be closed through Friday night for the Think conference. | Image: Jay O'Conor/Twitter

SFMTA warns that “heavy pedestrian traffic” should be expected in the area of the Moscone Center — 3rd and 4th streets between Howard and Market streets — throughout the conference.

There will be additional lane closures and parking restrictions throughout the area, particularly along Howard Street between 2nd and 3rd and 4th and 5th streets; 3rd Street between Folsom and Mission streets; 4th Street between Minna and Howard streets; and Folsom Street between 3rd and 4th streets.

IBM purchased all the ad space along 4th Street between Minna and Howard.

The biggest traffic impact, though, will come on Thursday, February 14, when shuttles moving conference attendees between the Moscone Center and Pier 39 will shut down lanes on Howard Street between 4th and 5th streets and Folsom Street between 3rd and 4th streets. The closures will run from 3-8 p.m. that evening. 

Bicyclists will have the option to detour around the event at 2nd Street, or dismount at Howard and 3rd streets and walk their bikes through the event venues, but only on the northbound sidewalk. The southbound sidewalk will remain closed off for conference-related pedestrian traffic.

Feeling like you missed out on the fun? You can still get a pass for the conference, which run $2,295.

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