San Francisco’s Hidden Holocaust Memorial

It's a beautiful and powerful statement about tolerance--that's very hard to access

Pink Triangle Park is a stirring memorial--but one that's very difficult to access for the moment. All pics Streetsblog/Rudick unless noted.
Pink Triangle Park is a stirring memorial--but one that's very difficult to access for the moment. All pics Streetsblog/Rudick unless noted.

As San Francisco gears up for its Gay Pride celebrations, Streetsblog thought it would be a good time to check in on one of the city’s most stirring–and hard to reach–memorials to the struggles faced by the community.

Pink Triangle Park, seen in the photos, is located above the Castro Muni Station, nestled between Market Street and 17th Street. It is a memorial to homosexuals murdered during the Holocaust.

From the Pink Triangle Park web page:

The Pink Triangle Park is the first permanent, free-standing memorial in the United States dedicated to the persecuted and murdered homosexuals during the Nazi era. The park and monument was conceived and built by the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association (EVNA), a neighborhood association for the Castro, Upper Market and Duboce Triangle areas.

Unfortunately, many long-time residents of San Francisco don’t know it’s there. That’s because it’s caught between Market and 17th’s lanes of fast-moving traffic. Access from the station is extremely precarious. One has to navigate up a narrow concrete median thumbnail. It’s pretty much impossible for seniors or those with disabilities to get to it from Castro and Market without risking getting run over.

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Cars zoom past the park on 17th, making it unsafe to access

Streetsblog has a request into SFMTA for more information, but rumor has it that could change soon. The area of Market next to the park will be used to stage materials for this summer’s planned Twin Peaks subway tunnel closure and repairs, which start on June 25 (see diagram below).

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A diagram of where SFMTA will stage materials near Pink Triangle Park. Image: SFMTA

During that period, SFMTA will have to put in some road modifications so traffic and buses can get around the construction materials. This includes removing the concrete thumbnail seen in the upper right of the diagram.

When the Twin Peaks tunnel repairs are finished, those modifications will be removed, and everything will return to normal (and unsafe). But according to a source inside SFMTA, there’s a push to try and use this opportunity to permanently modify the intersection, calm traffic, and improve pedestrian access to the park.

How far along are the designs? Well, the official referred to it as a “napkin sketch at this point,” but confirmed that SFMTA is talking with Public Works about doing an outreach survey as a first step. One specific idea could be to move the entrance to 17th Street to the west, separating it from the already complex intersection of Castro and Market. This will require traffic to make a hard right around the park, which will force cars to slow down, and make the park more safely accessible for pedestrians coming from Castro and Market.

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Heavy equipment getting dropped by Triangle Park to start extending the bus boarding area in anticipation of SFMTA’s Twin Peaks tunnel closure and staging.
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Another look at the park, with a view of 17th, the thumbnail, and the fast traffic that shoots past it, making it hard to access from Castro and Market

Streetsblog will get more information out there as it becomes available, so readers can chime in. In the meantime, advocate Matt Brezina is starting an online petition to show interest for making the park more accessible.

You can also volunteer to help clean and spruce up the park tomorrow, Saturday, June 16, 9-12 p.m., Pink Triangle Park + Memorial, 4107 17th St.

More pics of the park below:

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A ‘goat trail’ where people made their own way to the park–it seems a bit safer to cross from 17th here than work your way up the thumbnail.
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Access from the west is safer from traffic, but not exactly inviting.
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Another look at the park
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A pink triangle, reminiscent of the pink triangle badges worn by inmates of Nazi camps
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Another view of the park’s paver stones and greenery

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