The Golden Mile Project, located in the heart of San Francisco’s majestic Golden Gate Park, is a place of whimsy, fun and lingering delight. Previously one of San Francisco’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians and bikers, the 1.5 mile stretch has now been transformed into an urban oasis bursting with art, music and joy.
With San Francisco-based arts nonprofit Illuminate leading the way in partnership with SF Rec Park, the road enjoyed a complete transformation over three months beginning in the fall of 2022. More than a dozen massive murals are painted directly upon the former roadway, large-scale sculpture installations adorn the mile as creative totems to community solidarity, two grand pianos sit ready for open play, live music permeates the air from two different stages, a beautifully restored vintage caravan pours locally roasted coffee, circus performers emerge and vanish again as organically as the naturally occurring elements, a storyboard walk educates minds young and old on the history of the park, children’s games can be found in plain sight. Even a full fledged beer garden appeared on weekends for the adults–all of this in a safe and joyful environment.
This extraordinary transformation, funded through private philanthropy, served to reveal the promise of this former road, turned urban oasis. It is credited with motivating San Francisco voters to overwhelmingly pass Proposition J in November 2022, which permanently closed a section of the road (JFK Drive) to vehicles.
Illuminate’s many partners on the project include Paint the Void (murals), Independent Distribution Collective (music), Flower Piano (pianos), San Francisco Public Library (StoryWalk), Non Plus Ultra (beer garden), Automattic (website), Kid Safe SF, Walk SF and SF Bike.