The corner of Market and Castro streets in San Francisco is where Harvey Milk first rallied support for the gay community and human rights. Now almost 40 years after he was gunned down, that street corner has been named in Milk’s honor.
A plaza in front of the Muni Metro station at Market and Castro is known as Harvey Milk Plaza. On November 7, 1997, the 20th anniversary of Milk’s election victory, Willie Brown, the Mayor of San Francisco, presided at a ceremony marking the occasion. But the plaza itself is an underwhelming, dingy waste of space with only a few pictures mounted on railings to remember the late, great gay civil rights icon.
But that is about to change.
“For years and years people have asked ‘can’t you do something better with Harvey Milk plaza,’” explained Andrea Aiello, Executive Director of the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District.
Local advocates formed the group Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza to work to make it a more inviting space. Then, in the spring of last year, SFMTA announced it would do a major overhaul of the station to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That will necessitate adding a second elevator. “They invited us to work with them,” explained Aiello. The idea was for the Friends to help come up with a community-inspired design to upgrade the plaza in conjunction with the SFMTA’s required work.
Design firms all over the world are being asked to send contest entries by the end of May to design a monument for Milk.
Supporters are hoping to raise $10 million to give Milk the monument they say he deserves.
The Harvey Milk Plaza Competition is open for submissions through May 31, 2017. Visit Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza for more information.