Right in time for Pride, and Pink Saturday crowds (even though the traditional Pink Saturday block party isn't allowed anymore), blocks of Castro Street between 17th and 19th Streets now have extra-wide sidewalks and a bit less parking. The decision was made to widen the sidewalks on both sides of the street to accommodate increasing foot traffic in the neighborhood which often also includes lines outside bars at night, street musicians, panhandlers, crowds at the Castro Theatre, and encampments of homeless youth. The promised rainbow crosswalks and new street trees, however, have not yet been installed.
The bulk of the project was completed with remarkable efficiency despite a fair amount of grumbling from neighborhood businesses who suffered a sluggish month of May with an extremely cramped and fenced in passageway of a sidewalk. Last week crews completed the final major work of grinding down Castro Street itself in order to repave it.
It looks like some of the sidewalk concrete-pouring may be temporary, completed as such to meet the Pride week deadline, as evidenced by this poor tree at 18th and Castro which had concrete poured right up to its trunk.
There was also a bit of drama surrounding the removal and re-installation of two commemorative plaques that were already in the sidewalk outside Harvey Milk's former camera store at 575 Castro Street (now the HRC Action Center). There was anecdotal evidence to suggest that some of Milk's ashes, or even a lock of his hair, had been placed in the concrete under or around the smaller of the two plaques, leading to crews having to preserve some of that original concrete around the plaque. Both plaques have now safely been reinstalled.
All of the construction, including new street lighting, trees, and a Rainbow Honor Walk honoring LGBT heroes and heroines, is scheduled to be complete by October.