San Francisco's UN Plaza Reopens with Fresh Recreational Facilities and Innovative Street Skating Plaza

San Francisco's UN Plaza Reopens with Fresh Recreational Facilities and Innovative Street Skating PlazaSource: I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tony Ng
Published on November 08, 2023

United Nations Plaza in San Francisco is re-opening after a comprehensive renovation, offering fresh recreational facilities and activities for both locals and tourists in the Civic Center neighborhood. Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department formally introduced the renovated UN Plaza today. Its newly added amenities include an inventive street skating plaza, a fitness court studio, and various activities appealing to all age groups per the City and County of San Francisco news report.

The redesign, part of a wider ambition to create clean, secure, and lively public spaces for residents, has seen the UN Plaza transformed into an energetic activity hub with a $2 million renovation budget. Inspired by similar projects in cities such as Paris, Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Philadelphia. The revamped UN Plaza stands as a demonstration of how city spaces can be revamped in a way that fosters a sense of community and promotes healthy activities for everybody.

At the heart of the new UN Plaza is its 13,000-square-foot street skating plaza. It's the first of its kind in the United States. The design was a collaborative effort between local professional skateboarders and skate park advocates, with the plaza featuring elements reminiscent of emblematic skate spots around the city, some of which no longer exist. The skateable pyramid at the center of the plaza is an ode to Paris's Place de la République, showcasing San Francisco's commitment to creating unique, multi-use spaces that are welcoming to both pedestrians and skateboarders.

However, the recreational activities at UN Plaza are not limited to skateboarding. The renewed public space now also offers tables for games like ping-pong, teqball, chess, foosball, and cornhole. Furthermore, the outdoor fitness studio has a variety of strength-building stations and an outdoor class space designed to accommodate workouts such as yoga, tai chi, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Zumba, and many others.

The initiative to reimagine San Francisco's urban spaces isn't purely focused on local beneficiaries; it mirrors a global trend to reclaim public spaces to beneficially enhance everyone’s enjoyment. City officials and community members recognize the importance of making accessible recreation facilities available and offering an array of appealing activities tailored to diverse interests and skill levels. San Francisco is presently the only U.S. city adopting a design that thoughtfully integrates both pedestrians and skateboarders on a large scale, setting a precedent for other cities.

"Great cities consist of great public spaces. The new programming and features at UN Plaza offer something for everyone, and that's by design. Vibrant spaces are made up of all different kinds of people pursuing all kinds of healthy fun," said San Francisco Recreation and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg, acknowledging the wider community impact of the transformed UN Plaza.

The ongoing collaboration from city, state, and federal partners, alongside nonprofit organizations, law enforcement, and neighboring cultural institutions, is critical in strategizing and executing these innovative urban renewal projects. As per Tracy Everwine, Executive Director of the Civic Center Community Benefit District, "Unprecedented public/private collaboration has brought forth this incredible transformation."