Hayes Valley – What a Difference

Hayes Valley on a sunny winter afternoon. Click any image for a larger version and slideshow, with pictures of Patricia’s Green, Smitten Ice Cream, Ritual Coffee, and the Biergarten.

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What a difference the destruction of a freeway makes to a neighborhood! Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley is a wonderful example.

While it was once a pretty desolate place, next to the central freeway and pretty much a no-man’s land, the removal of the freeway (thanks, Loma Prieta earthquake) and neighborhood opposition that forced a new off-ramp to end at Market street, the area is dramatically different today. The picture immediately below highlights the land that eventually became Patricia’s green, showing how it was next to the old central freeway.


The picture below is a more recent picture, with the old freeway route in blue, and the new Patricia’s Green park highlighted in yellow. But as wonderful as the park itself is, what has been even more enjoyable to watch is all the temporary businesses that have popped up and really made the area a wonderful people watching spot. Immediately to the east of Patricia’s Green are three businesses that have opened up in industrial gray shipping containers.

First was Smitten ice cream, where you can watch your ice cream mix turn into your ice cream treat before your eyes with their fascinating liquid nitrogen powered ice cream makers. Immediately to the north of Smitten is a Ritual Coffee shop, where the coffee is expensive but also incredibly delicious. The most recent addition to the neighborhood is the Biergarten, which is just to the south of Smitten ice cream. Since I don’t drink beer, I can’t tell you anything about the spot except to say that it when I walk by it is usually pretty filled up with smiling people, so I’d say the beer is probably pretty good.

And finally, if you are curious about why the little park is named Patricia’s Green, it is named in honor of neighborhood activist Patricia Walker, who was instrumental in leading neighborhood opposition to a new freeway after damage caused to the old central freeway in the Loma Prieta earthquake. She died in 2006, and at that time Hayes Valley neighborhood residents succeeded in having the park renamed in her memory.

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