Yerba Buena Gardens – From Urban Decay to Urban Paradise

The Yerba Buena Gardens help to make San Francisco one of the greatest cities in the world. It took 30 years of debate and planning plus a generous budget of $87 million to transform this area of urban decay into a vibrant public space. The intention was to create an oasis where the work and talents of San Francisco's diverse ethnic and artistic communities could be featured.

Yerba Buena Lane, the beautiful pedestrian walkway — that connects Market and Missions Streets, and runs parallel to Third and Fourth Streets — features a running stream, shops, restaurants, and plenty of fun public art. The 5.5 acre Esplanade — bordered by Howard and Mission Streets and Third and Fourth Streets — features a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr, located behind a series of 20-foot-high, 5-foot-wide waterfalls made of Sierra granite.

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Yerba Buena Gardens

Six Great Things About Yerba Buena Gardens

1. Oche Wat Te Ou | Reflections

The tribute to the native Ohlone Indians was created by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and James Lunain. A semicircular wood wall patterned with Ohlone basket designs stands behind a crescent-shaped pool and a circle of moss covered rocks. Set beside the redwood grove is a single oak tree. The space is intended as an area for meditation and as a place for poetry and storytelling.

2. Martin Luther King Memorial Silver Walls

Dutch artist Lin Utzon designed the walls that flank the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial and Waterfall to reflect water, sky, and landscape. The fluted granite walls adjust to changes in sunlight and temperature.

3. Shaking Man

The popular life-size bronze statue by artist Terry Allen shows a multi-dimensional businessman who greets visitors near the western edge of the Esplanade. The fun statue conveys a sense of motion with feet and hands appearing to reach out to grab yours.

4. Urge

This interactive robotic bronze sculpture, located under the walkway to the Children's Garden near Howard Street, stands up and rises with you. As a result, you're always in sync with Urge, sitting — or standing — on top of the world.

5. Glass Ship, Deep Gradient/Suspect Terrain

John Roloff's 18-foot-high sculpture rises above the East Garden terrace with portholes that hint of the activity to be seen in below in the Moscone Center.

6. The Sister Cities Garden

Planted with flowers and plants from San Francisco's 13 sister cities from around the world.

Many of the major structures within the Yerba Buena Gardens were designed by internationally-acclaimed architects, including the 55,000 square-foot Center for the Arts Galleries and Forum by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki.

Yerba Buena Gardens Information

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

Many of the major structures within the Yerba Buena Gardens were designed by internationally-acclaimed architects, including the 55,000 square-foot Center for the Arts Galleries and Forum by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. The annual festival runs from May to October. Relax in the gardens and lawns and listen to classical, world & jazz music, dance, theater, and family programs.

Public Transit. It's a short walk from the BART/MUNI Powell and Montgomery Street stations. The CalTrain Station at Fourth & Townsend is served by MUNI's 30 Stockton, with stops on Third Street at Howard and Mission. Also: Golden Gate Transit, SamTrans, and AC Transit downtown bus routes.

Yerba Buena Gardens is found in downtown San Francisco at the corner of Fourth and Mission Street. Admission is free. The gardens are open daily from 6 am to 10 pm.

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Museums & Galleries Close to Yerba Buena Gardens

  • YERBA CENTER FOR THE ARTS
  • Dedicated to contemporary visual art, performance, and film/video representing a diversity of cultural perspectives.
  • 701 Mission Street
  • Website
  • CHILDREN'S CREATIVITY MUSEUM
  • A fun, engaging interactive arts and technology museum for kids of all ages.
  • 221 Fourth Street
  • Website
  • CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSEUM
  • Understanding the diversity of the Jewish experience for a twenty-first century audience
  • 736 Mission Street
  • Website
  • SFMOMA MUSEUM STORE
  • It's the temporary home for the fun museum gift store.
  • 51 Yerba Buena Lane
  • Website
  • MUSEUM OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA
  • Showcases the cultural diversity from the dispersal of Africans around the globe.
  • 685 Mission Street
  • Website
  • SOCIETY OF CALIFORNIA PIONEERS
  • Established in 1850, the society advances the knowledge and appreciation of early California history for future generations.
  • 300 Fourth Street
  • Website

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