Updated March 3rd, 2020 – The San Francisco POPOS is the acronym for Privately Owned Public Open Spaces. These are private spaces, mostly located in the Financial District and accessible to the public. Whether a rooftop, a terrace, a green space or a walkway between two streets, they are real bubbles of oxygen in the city.
Their creation is linked to the urban planning rules of the city which require that a certain percentage of the surface of constructions be accessible to all. Since 1985, an artistic program was also put in place providing the exhibition of public art by the city San Francisco. These spaces are hidden gems throughout the downtown area, like havens of tranquility where it feels good to take a break or daydream.
Here are some examples of the San Francisco POPOS that we visited but we have not seen them all: we count on you to send us your best photos! There are more than 60.
It’s up to you to create your own route, like a treasure hunt. Be sure to check the opening days and times of each space. (scroll down for the link to the map)
POPOS are usually indicated by a sign. Do not be discouraged if you do not find a sign, go into the buildings and ask the receptionists, they are perfectly aware, sometimes you just need to sign-in and they will pleasantly direct you. It’s really entertaining, like a big treasure hunt in the city. Stunning views, rooftops, terraces, benches in the sun, or shaded patios are all nooks to discover.
343 Sansome: go all the way to the reception desk, turn right and take the elevator up to 15th floor. You will find a nice rooftop with the “Four Seasons” obelisk by Joan Brown and a great view to the Transamerica Pyramid on the right side
One Kearny: you will find a POPOS sign to indicate the entrance of the building, sign in at reception and the crew will lead you to the elevator to the 11th floor. Stunning views of downtown.
Crocker Galleria, 50 post street: 2 possible accesses, the easiest is on the top floor of the Galleria, find the stairway to get to this rooftop with a view on Hobart historical building!
SalesForce Park: probably the most recent one, and the most … grandiose!! A beautiful space with multiple access from the Transit Center. You can take the gondola or the elevator where you will spot a POPOS sign. Many activities in the SalesForce park. Check the event program https://salesforcetransitcenter.com
555 Mission: A vegetal wall, benches, “Moonrise Sculptures: March, October and December” d’Ugo Rondinone and “Human Sculptures” by Jonathan Borofsky in this walkway between Mission & Minna Streets.
825 Market st – Sky Terrace : a nice rooftop next door to Westfield shopping center. You have to sign up at the reception desk so they can operate the elevator for you
Apple Store Union Square: with Ruth Asawa’s work, a terrace with wifi and a LOVE sign (photo frenci_caboni)
648 Commercial St: Empire park, a shaded mini park in Commercial Street (once very French) with benches and tables, ideal for a lunch break.
All photos by MerciSf unless otherwise noted