the urban prospector

Searching for Golden Opportunities in America's Cities

Amazing Residential Sidewalk

4 Comments

This sidewalk in Bernal Heights, San Francisco frames space and provides visual texture incredibly well making this one of the most enjoyable streets to walk down.

During my trip to the Bay Area, I walked down perhaps the greatest sidewalk I’ve ever seen. Space on the sidewalk is incredibly well framed by the various elements. Starting with the buildings, there is only a small setback of roughly 10 feet. This 10 feet of space is also very well used with steps, wooden fences, patios and other details. The planter strip between the sidewalk and the cartway is planted with short, wide and dense trees. The trees, are the primary object shaping space on the sidewalk as the trunks provide vertical form and the branches extend over the sidewalk at a height of roughly 7 feet. The sidewalk is further enhanced with other plants in the planter strip and in the patios of the houses. While some streets try to improve the visual quality of space through the use of fake brick patterns and small plants, this sidewalk successful frames the space, leaving small plants in a supportive role and leaving fake brick for another location. Framing the pedestrian space is much more critical than dressing up pedestrian space.

With trees extending over the sidewalk only slightly above the height of an average person, the framed vertical space creates a great pedestrian experience.

With trees extending over the sidewalk only slightly above the height of an average person, the framed vertical space creates a great pedestrian experience.

Though the Palm Tree does not frame overhead space, it still provides an excellent vertical form framing the sidewalk.

Though the Palm Tree does not frame overhead space, it still provides an excellent vertical form framing the sidewalk.

Stairs and decks add to the character of this sidewalk.

Stairs and decks add to the character of this sidewalk.

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4 thoughts on “Amazing Residential Sidewalk

  1. What street is this?

  2. That is Mirabel Ave in Bernal Heights

  3. I’ve lived on MIrabel since 1994, and these sidewalk gardens and several tree plantings have been coordinated by community volunteers, including residents of the street, and staff from Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF). Together we have planted over 35 new street trees on Mirabel in the last 15 years.

  4. Thanks for noticing our beautiful sidewalk with its trees and gardens. As David Shaw noted, this is the result of a great community of people working together for many years to beautify our block. As the “Mirabel Neighbors” we have had great support from the City and community-based organizations like Friends of the Urban Forest. Most recently, many of us installed Sidewalk Gardens with help of FUF and DPW. By opening up sidewalk, these gardens create space for beauty as well as allowing more rain to water the earth directly, helping ease the stress on the city sewer system.

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