The city recently installed a large, multi-pronged signpost near the Powell Street Station in Union Square, featuring the names of all of San Francisco’s sister cities and pointing in the direction of each, along with the number of miles separating SF from the likes of Paris and Kiel.
According to SFMTA , the Sister Cities Sign is a collaboration of the transit agency, the Department of Public Works, the SF Public Utilities Commission, and the Mayor’s Office of Protocol. (Yes, we have one of those.)
During the unveiling, Mayor Mark Farrell said, “Especially in this era today with our federal government, where we are building walls, we are tearing down relationships, we are literally creating tariffs....we are leading the way in a different manner.”
Hoodline reports that the city actually installed the piece over a week ago, but the city took a few days to officially announce the new addition. It’s the brainchild of Mayor Farrell, whose office credits it as a celebration of “person-to-person diplomacy.”
The sign can be found near the Powell Street cable car turnaround near the escalator entrance to the underground BART/Muni station.
San Francisco has 19 sister cities, the most recent being Kiel, Germany, added in 2017.
Note that Osaka, Japan, is still on the sign despite the fact that Osaka’s mayor said he would cut ties with San Francisco last year to protest the installation of a statue in Chinatown honoring sex-trafficking victims from World War II.
Osaka was San Francisco’s first sister city, entering into a diplomatic relationship with SF in 1957. At a time when many World War II veterans still remembered embarking from San Francisco to offensives in Japan, and even on Osaka itself just a dozen years earlier, it was a dramatic and emotionally charged gesture.