From an auto alley to a pedestrian plaza or… Private sector success spurs public sector program

The newly christened pedestrian-only Mint Plaza in San Francisco is worth the two headlines.

First, as you can see in the images to the right, what was once a seedy automobile alley is now a pedestrian-only gathering destination. Opened a year ago near Fifth and Mission Street, the plaza is starting to become a vibrant scene with restaurants and outdoor seating. It was funded through a public-private partnership and is maintained by a nonprofit.

Mayor Gavin Newsom used Mint Plaza as the model (and stage – that’s him in the top image) in announcing San Francisco’s Better Streets Plan proposal. The plan is presented in a 250-page document that provides standards, guidelines and implementation strategies to build more pedestrian environments like Mint Plaza.