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1966 Plan Would Have Made For a Very Different Mission

Welcome to Curbed SF's Could Have Been, where we investigate some of the most outlandish and grandiose proposals that were never built. Know of a plan that never saw the light of day? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.

Sunken plaza at 24th Street BART station, 1966 [Photo: Eric Fischer]
Back in 1966, the Planning Commission had architects Okamoto/Liskamm come up with an urban design study for the Mission District, and boy did they come up with a doozy. Think elevated walkways, sunken transit plazas, and a near complete destruction of the retail area.

The Mission District Urban Design Study was part of the citywide "renewal" initiatives of the 1960s. Concern with commercial and industrial blight in the Inner Mission area, coupled with the imminent construction of the BART stations and 16th and 24th Streets, caused a comprehensive study of the Mission Corridor. It focused on the area of Mission Street between Duboce and Randall, and in the corridor between South Van Ness and Valencia.

Mission District Urban Design Study site plan, 1966 [Photo: Eric Fischer]
Economic development and functional urban design were the main lynchpins of the plan. A Mission District Renewal Commission was formed to assist in the task, comprised of property owners, merchants, residents, and major institutions in the Mission. Interestingly enough, the plan called for breaking up the commercial strips along Mission Street for new uses like housing (resulting in a "new visual sequence, reducing the present monotonous, repetitive quality"), an controversial issue that still seems to rear its ugly head today.

Section of 16th Street BART station area, 1966 [Photo: Eric Fischer]
16th Street was earmarked as a central business district, while 24th was imagined more as a regional transit intersection with larger institutional and commercial activities (think hospitals and auto related businesses). The BART stations included elevated walkways from parking garages and public plazas, creating vertical circulation. Think design elements like water features, civic art, transit platforms opening right onto the plazas, and "outdoor rotundas" of open air shopping along elevated walkways. Lots and lots of new parking garages were proposed, mostly as free standing above-ground structures.

Plaza design for 16th Street BART station, 1966 [Photo: Eric Fischer]
The area along Mission between 18th and 21st Streets was described as in "poor economic and physical condition," so it was pinned as the site for new medium density housing with family sized units. They were looking to compact commercial activity to new clusters around the BART stations.
Redevelopment in the Mission became a political battlefield. Locals, including many Latino citizens, voiced their displeasure at the plan, and the Board of Supervisors narrowly rejected it by a one-vote margin.

Many thanks to urban design/map/flickr mastermind Eric Fischer for the images.
· The Politics of Community Development [Google Books]
· Mission District Urban Design Study [Eric Fischer via Flickr]
· Previous coverage of housing on Mission Street [Curbed SF archives]