Market Street Facelift?

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Market Street was, apparently, once a boulevard San Francisco residents were proud of.  That was 40 years ago; we all know what Market Street looks like now.  Since moving to San Francisco in 1996 I have heard over and over again how Market Street was to be revitalized, but not much would come of it.  The reason for Market Street’s fall from grace is often blamed on the construction of BART.

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The construction of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) under Market Street started July 25, 1967 and lasted through opening day on September 11, 1972.  During this period of construction the site was an open wound in the middle of Market Street with pedestrians using wooden sidewalks like a scene out of Deadwood. On the BART website they write “The final tunnel bore was “holed through” into the west end of the Montgomery Street Station on January 27, 1971. It marked the completion of tunneling work in the huge, two-level Market Street subway and climaxed six years of tunneling underground.” The short of the story is that all the shops and restaurants along Market Street couldn’t wait out the 6 year span, closed, and never came back.

Another factor may have been that Market Street runs along what was then all called South of Market (when I moved to SF I knew it as South of Market in any case), which even 20 years ago, was a mostly industrial area with no industry to give it meaning…besides amazing dance clubs of course.

Since then a huge transformation has taken place.  South of Market has split up into a few different neighborhoods:  South Beach, Yerba Buena, and Mission Bay.  A whole skyline of new condo high rises, office buildings, and Giant’s Stadium have been built bringing residents and fans to the area on a regular basis.  All of this has created an engine of demand that could easily and naturally funnel onto Market Street.  On top of this both Twitter and Dolby Labs have placed there bets on the area with new large headquarters at 1335 Market Street (Twitter) and 1275 Market Street (Dolby) both by 9th Street.  The number of people traveling through the area on a daily basis is picking up, and with that comes the desire for a more attractive environment.

In an article in SFGate:  Market Street Up For A Facelift published yesterday the City of San Francisco is planning on a $20 Million repaving plan for Market Street from Octavia Boulevard to the Embarcadero.  The thought is the chaos created by the street construction will create an excellent opportunity to try to revitalize and improve Market Street in general.

What do you think should be done (if anything) to Market Street to make it an area you would be happy to go to?

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