Poets Plaza: An Outdoor Living Room for Writers

Plenty of bookish neighborhoods yap about their literary history, but few have written literature into their physical landscape like San Francisco's North Beach. Here the street signs are inked with bylines—Jack Kerouac Alley, Kenneth Rexroth Place—and the famed writers' cafes feel like common civic property.

Now a proposed project—the conversion of a block of Vallejo Street into a carless, tree-lined public square—aims to bring the writing culture more officially into North Beach's bones. Called Poets Plaza, it's the brainchild of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the famed poet, artist, and City Lights founder. "Lawrence comes from a European tradition of plazas," says the project's architect, Dennis Sullivan. "He wanted an outdoor living room for poets." As living rooms go, Poets Plaza fittingly abuts the salon: Caffe Trieste, the grandest of those old writers' haunts and a place still packed with scribes, many of whom live in apartments upstairs.

The Plaza design caters assiduously to the block's legacy of free expression. Portable chairs will, in Sullivan's words, "give you authorship to move," and even the trees may be set in wheeled pots. Playing the blank page is also smart design policy when you're asking to transform a city block. Sullivan hopes to place rolling planters at each end, which can be pushed out of the way if emergency vehicles need to drive through. (These would be watered with rainwater collected on the site.) Even the plaza's most striking feature isn't quite permanent: the striated green-and-white ground surface, a mime of the pattern on Brunelleschi's Duomo in Florence, Italy, will be painted initially, and only later set in stone. For Sullivan, the Plaza amounts to "a simple platform for unscripted change." Appropriately, among the few fixed features will be quotes from poets, inscribed in the ground.

Renderings by Mark Pechenik


Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News

An anonymous White House official claims President Trump cruelly limited Hispanic immigrants in their new book, "A Warning."

The book, to be released on November 19, gives an alleged insider account of the Trump White House and paints a picture of the president as a chaotic man who lacks the mental and moral acumen required for the job.

The anonymous staffer says that Trump once feigned a Hispanic accent and made fun of women attempting to immigrate to the U.S.

Keep Reading Show less
via KTVU / YouTube

The 63-year-old Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, currently branded the RingCentral Coliseum, is one of the most decrepit sports venues in America.

The home to the the NFL's Oakland Raiders (until they move to Las Vegas next season) and MLB's A's, is notoriously known as the Black Hole and has made headlines for its frequent flooding and sewage issues.

One of the stadium's few positive aspects is its connection to public transportation.

Keep Reading Show less
Hero Video
Yad Vashem

Since 1992, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous has been holding reunion ceremonies between Holocaust survivors and rescuers once a year. But the tradition is coming to an end, as many have died or are too frail to travel. What might be the last reunion of its kind took place when a 92-year-old woman met up with the two surviving family members that she helped hide during the Holocaust, and their descendants.

Sarah Yanai and Yossi Mor introduced Melpomeni Dina (nee Gianopoulou) to their almost 40 family members, all decedents of the Mordechai family, the family of seven that Dina and her two sisters hid during WWII. "There are no words to describe this feeling," Dina told the Jeruselum Post. "It is very emotional for us to be together again."

Keep Reading Show less
via Facebook / Autumn Dayss

Facebook user and cosplayer Autumn Dayss has stirred up a bit of Halloween controversy with her last-minute costume, an anti-Vaxx mother.

An image she posted to the social network shows a smiling Dayss wearing a baby carrier featuring a small skeleton. "Going to a costume party tonight as Karen and her non-vaccinated child," the caption over the image reads.

Keep Reading Show less