Fallen Bridge San Francisco, California
Fallen Bridge Park is a small freeway easement at the corner of 18th and Utah Streets, at the eastern edge of San Francisco’s Mission District. The site, adjacent to Highway 101, offers a rare bit of open space in the dense residential neighborhood, with views of the Mission District and Twin Peaks to the west. It also gives access to a footbridge crossing the highway between the Mission District and Potrero Hill. Fallen Bridge Park was set aside by the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) when the highway was built in the 1950s. The name “Fallen Bridge” came a few years later, after a driver in a dump truck passing under the original footbridge accidentally raised his truck bed, colliding with the bridge and destroying it. The bridge was replaced and the park received modest maintenance from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department over the years. Still, the site became increasingly neglected. Criminal activities in the area during the 1990s and early 2000s motivated nearby residents to organize with the goal of making the mini-park safer and more usable. The volunteer organization eventually formed into the Mariposa-Utah-18th-San Bruno Neighborhood Association (MUNA).
MUNA organized volunteer work days to clean and maintain the park, and began searching for funding for park renovation in 2004. Realizing they needed professional assistance, MUNA contacted Miller Company Landscape Architects in 2007. The group chose Miller Company because of our firm’s long history of working on public spaces, and our commitment to community-driven design. Our qualifications as a design-build firm also enabled us to take charge of the construction phase of renovation. Working closely with neighborhood residents, Miller Company developed the Fallen Bridge Park Master Plan which incorporated a seat wall/viewing terrace along the curved corner of 18th and Utah Streets, a multi-use recreational area with a paved court, a garden area with native plants and shade trees, and a large sundial integrated into the circular ramp of the footbridge.
Dating back to 2007, Miller Company has been involved with neighborhood-initiated renovations to the park providing pro bono planning, design, and construction administration services. The company also served as the landscape contractor with installation happening in three phases over a four year period. Neighborhood volunteers assisted in each phase of construction with the planting of natives species throughout the park. It has now become a beautiful urban wayside park that attracts birds and butterflies to the once abandoned area as well as neighbors and park enthusiasts from all parts of the city actively using the area for lively pétanque games, dog walking, and simple relaxation. The park has been recognized as one of San Francisco’s Best 10 Parks by the local press and is a living example of how to make lemonade from lemons. We are happy to have assisted the community!