Streets as Public Spaces: A Resource Guide

Our December 10 Forum on Streets as Public Spaces features the foremost leaders in reclaiming streets as public spaces. Here’s Livable City’s resource guide to reshaping our urban landscape.

San Francisco Resources

Sunday Streets, a program of Livable City, is San Francisco’s pre-eminent program reclaiming streets as community public spaces.

Stormwater Guidelines

The Stormwater Design Guidelines, published by the San Francisco PUC, include design standards, plant selections, and application materials for creating green stormwater infrastructure, including permeable pavement, sidewalk plantings, and rain gardens.

Plant SF provides both inspiration and how-to advice on sidewalk landscaping in San Francisco.

Pavement to Parks is a project of San Francisco’s Planning Department that works with neighborhoods to create and tests their ideas for new public spaces, including parklets.

Street Parks is a joint project of the San Francisco Parks Alliance and Department of Public Works to help neighbors transform street rights-of-way into public open spaces.

The Market Octavia Living Alleys Program is a two-year community-based program to design and implement a network of Living Alleys in the Market & Octavia Plan area.

Mint Plaza is a public street reclaimed as a public plaza near the Old Mint in Downtown San Francisco.

Annie Street Plaza is an alleyway in Downtown SF reclaimed as a public plaza by the Yerba Buena CBD.

Linden Living Alley is a Living Alley in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, which won Livable City’s award for innovation.

The Living Alleys Toolkit is a how-to guide and pattern book for creating living alleys in San Francisco.

The Chinatown Alleyway Renovation Program is a partnership between CCDC and the Department of Public Works to transform Chinatown Alleyways into people-oriented public spaces.

A rendering from the Chinatown Green Alley project by SFPUC/SFDPW featuring green infrastructure technologies that uses the natural process of plants and soil to filter, clean, and infiltrate stormwater, reducing the burden on the sewer system.

A rendering from the Chinatown Green Alley project featuring innovative green infrastructure technologies.

National and International

Project for Public Spaces is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and sustaining public places that build communities.

City Repair offers photos and notes from a street reclaiming project in Portland, OR.

Gehl Architects ‘urban quality consultants’ based in Copenhagen, led by urbanist Jan Gehl.

Urb-i provides ideas and inspiration for better cities, including galleries showing hundreds of before-and-after images of street reclaiming.

NACTO (the National Association of City Transportation Officials) is a national association dedicated to promoting more people-oriented street design. NACTO’s street design standards have been adopted in a growing number of cities, including San Francisco.

Introduction to Shared Space is a video introduction to the Shared Space movement in street design.

The World Carfree Network is a clearinghouse of information from around the world on how to revitalize our towns and cities by creating car-free spaces.


Whyte, William. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces.

Project for Public Spaces, Inc. How to Turn a Place Around: A Handbook for Creating Successful Public Spaces.

Gehl, Jan. Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space.

Gehl, Jan and Lars Gemzoe. Public Spaces, Public Life: Copenhagen

Gehl, Jan and Lars Gemzoe. New City Spaces

Crawford, J. H. Carfree Cities.

Engwicht, David. Reclaiming Our Cities and Towns: Better Living With Less Traffic.

Solnit, Rebecca. Wanderlust: A History of Walking.

Appleyard, Donald. Livable Streets.

Engwicht, David. Mental Speed Bumps: The smarter way to tame traffic.

Jacobs, Allan. Great Streets.

Jacobs, Allan, Elizabeth Macdonald, and Yodan Rof. The Boulevard Book: History, Evolution, Design of Multiway Boulevards.