Transamerica Redwood Park

Designers: Tom Galli | City: San Francisco, CA | Project Type: pocket park
Date Visited: 11.05.12

Locations: 600 Montgomery St San Francisco, CA
Size: 0.5 acre
Official Opening Date: 1972

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” — John Steinbeck

At the heart of the financial district and the base of the iconic, Transamerica Pyramid building sits a half-acre grove of redwoods. This surprising and refreshing slice of nature is not only home to one of California’s most beloved landscapes (also a favorite of mine), but is also one of the earliest POPOS to be established in downtown San Francisco.

Transamerica Redwood Park is only open during weekdays during day-time business hours. Though these restricted hours can make it a bit difficult to visit, this pocket park is worth the effort.

Step through the gated entrance into the redwood grove and the city facade melts away behind you. This cool and shady park smells strongly of a redwood forest; approximately fifty redwood trees were transplanted from the Santa Cruz Mountains. An understory of ferns unfurl beneath the towering redwoods; pavers intersect landscape in a jigsaw-like pattern to meld hardscape with softscape; custom wood benches blend into the forest landscape.

Not surprisingly, this pocket park is a popular favorite, and not just amongst white-collar workers looking for a relaxing lunch spot. Located right next to Chinatown, I saw a number of elderly Asian people in the park getting midday exercise; people also seem to be magnetically drawn to the redwoods and purposefully include the park part of their route back to work.

Towards the back there are two sculptural pieces and a fountain constructed to look like a natural spring, erupting from the earth. A series of frog sculpture ring the fountain as tribute to Mark Twain’s story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

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