SF's Election Night Revelation

Relative to those in Chicago's Grant Park or New York's Time Square, post-election celebration turnouts in San Francisco public spaces were sparse. But it's not because of urban design--it's the city's character.
November 13, 2008, 10am PST | Judy Chang
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"This isn't necessarily a bad thing. But the void was apparent on election night when Obama's victory caused a meteor shower of public exultation to shoot across our civic landscape - flickering up with high-fives and car honks and spontaneous delight, dissolving in most places as people moved on.

That's a far cry from what went on in Grant Park, where the official Obama gathering near the lakefront was a magnet for more than 100,000 people wanting to be part of history in the making. Or Times Square, where thousands of people showed up to watch enormous television screens proclaiming the results but also to take part in something larger.

On a map, to be sure, we have such spaces. Union Square is the obvious one, framed by masonry walls. Yerba Buena Gardens is beguiling and green. Both are close by Muni and BART.

Both, though, are designed as passive backdrops. They're amenities, not destinations. And while Yerba Buena at one point included visions of large-scale outdoor projection screens, critics who then as now fear 'Manhattanization' were horrified by the idea."

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Published on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 in The San Francisco Chronicle
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