in the commons

In San Francisco’s central civic spaces you’ll find art, events, places to eat
and people to meet. Experience what #wehaveincommons.

Location: Civic Center Plaza

Thank you to the attendees, partners, and sponsors for making the 2018 Tree Lighting a wonderful event!

This event has passed: The free, family-friendly Civic Center Plaza Holiday Tree Lighting on December 5, 5-7pm, emceed by Belle Bottoms, will feature performances by renowned vocalist Amy Lizardo, the SF Girls Chorus, the Tap Dancing Christmas Trees, Business Casualyouth poets from the America Scores literacy program, and Boxcar Theatre holiday characters including the Grinch and Santa, led by Artistic Director Nick A. Olivero.



Thank you for a wonderful 2018 season of the Commons Block Party event series! The 2018 season featured 10 signature events: five 1st Sunday events occurred on Fulton Street from 11am -3pm on July 1, August 5, September 2, October 7 and November 4; and five 3rd Thursday events were held in Civic Center Plaza from 5-9pm on June 21, July 19, August 16, September 20, and October 18.

These free outdoor events featured live music, art, food and other activities. Programming highlights included free live performances by bands curated by Another Planet Entertainment , food trucks and bar from Off the Grid, rotating recreation such as free rollerskating from Church of 8 Wheels,  a circus performance by SF’s own Circus Bella, an open-air bazaar with one-of-a-kind goods created by local SF Etsy artisans, DIY crafts, and interactive art at the Village Artist Corner. During Sunday events, attendees could also visit the  Heart of the City Farmers’ Market in UN Plaza.



Opened in February of 2018, the Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds offer one of San Francisco’s most unique playscape experiences. The playgrounds were inspired by the city’s foggy climate and feature a “cloud forest,” climbing features and a dynamic lighting feature. This project is managed by the Trust for Public Land in partnership with San Francisco Recreation and Parks.

Visit Helen Diller Playgrounds Rec & Park page.

Location: UN PLAZA

This interactive installation by the Exploratorium’s Studio for Public Spaces invites passersby to stop and play with sound. The installation is composed of four main sections that wind through the trees in UN Plaza. Each section features a variety of “sonic phenomena” such as mammoth chimes, xylophones, echo tubes and massive wooden pendulums. Sound Commons is temporary, installed in June 2016.

Visit the project page to learn more here.


Designed by San Francisco public high school students with Youth Art Exchange’s architecture program in collaboration with the Asian Art Museum and the San Francisco Public Library, this dragon-inspired structure serves as a dynamic canvas for local artists and is host to monthly, all-ages programming as part of the Museum’s Free Target First Sunday. The design of this structure and ongoing use celebrate a mythical creature that is found throughout both artwork and literature, spanning many cultures. Sited in between the two institutions, the project intends to serve as a literal and symbolic link between the Museum and Library. The Art / Lit LIZ is temporary, installed in May 2017.
Find out about upcoming Art/Lit LIZ events here.

Location: Civic Center Commons

Knitting the Commons is an art installation that spans trees throughout the three public spaces in an effort to “knit” the Commons together. Throughout various phases of this project, select trees have been wrapped in one-of-a-kind, whimsical styles and patterns, created and installed by artist-sister duo Knits for Life. The neighborhood community was involved in selecting the themes for the installation throughout the summer of 2017, resulting in animal-themed creations installed in the trees. Highlights of installations to date include giraffes in Civic Center Plaza and octopuses UN Plaza. Look out for new animals in 2019, as we update and refresh the artwork. Please do hug the trees! (Image by Jill Watt)
Visit the project website here.

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around the commons

Bordering the Commons are museums, cultural institutions, historic
concert halls and architectural wonders. Here are some places of interest
you’ll find around the Commons.

A San Francisco treasure, this historic landmark is boasts the largest (or 2nd largest) free-standing dome in North America. The offices of our city government and host to countless ceremonies, City Hall’s distinct features can be found inside and out. City Hall’s ground floor serves as an art gallery, curated by the San Francisco Arts Commission . The exterior of the building is illuminated every evening and often features colors to celebrate or honor an event, cause or the life of someone who has passed. To find out What Color is City Hall Tonight, Click here.
Tours offered Monday through Friday, 10am, Noon, and 2pm. For more info on City Hall tours, visit here.
City Hall is open to the public, Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm. Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.

Explore City Hall website here.

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, operated by Another Planet Entertainment, is a multi-purpose venue used for corporate events, trade shows, sports, and most notably, live music concerts. The historic venue has hosted countless monumental acts, from groundbreaking legends such as The Grateful Dead, The Who, and Janice Joplin to their contemporaries, including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gorillaz, and Lady Gaga.

Initially conceived as the grand hall for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, this treasured landmark eventually became a stand-alone musical venue and was renamed as the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in 1992 to honor the late San Francisco concert promoter.
Find out about upcoming events here.

The Asian Art Museum is located within the Commons, and houses one of the most comprehensive Asian art collections in the world. The Museum curates internationally-renowned work and offers a variety of workshops as well as other experiences. It is also home to a new and updated cafe – Sunday at the Museum. The Museum’s mission extends beyond its four walls, featuring a growing outdoor exhibit of local artists on the museum’s entrance terrace on Larkin Street, and at the Art / Lit Living Innovation Zone on Fulton Street at Larkin .
Open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm, Closed Mondays
Visit the Asian Art Museum website here.

The Main Library is located within the Commons and is San Francisco’s oldest library. The Library serves as an essential community space for the greater neighborhood. As the resource center for the entire San Francisco Public Library system, its extensive collection and diverse programming draw residents from across the city on a daily basis. In summer of 2016, the Library and Mayor Lee opened the Library’s digital technology center for teens: The Mix at SFPL.
Sun 12pm-5pm, Mon-Wed 9am-8pm, Fri 12pm-6pm, Sat 10am-6pm
For upcoming events, click here.

The SHN Orpheum Theatre was built in 1926 as a showcase for theatre magnate Alexander Pantages, and in the past showed vaudeville, silent films, and motion pictures. The interior features a vaulted ceiling complete with a masterfully ornate chandelier, while the facade was patterned after a 12th-century French cathedral.
Today it is where SHN showcases world-renowned theater productions including The Lion King, Wicked, and most recently, a six-month tour of Hamilton (returning 2018).
Just a bit further, but still walking distance, SHN also owns and operates the Golden Gate Theatre .
Visit SHN Orpheum Theatre website here.

Founded by Randall Kline in 1983 under the name Jazz in the City, SFJAZZ has become the world’s leading cultural institution devoted to jazz and related forms of music, presenting over 300 performances each year. In January 2013, SFJAZZ took the most audacious step in its evolution, opening the 36,000-square-foot, $64 million SFJAZZ Center on the corner of Fell and Franklin streets in the heart of San Francisco’s cultural corridor, just two blocks from the Commons. Photo by Henrik Kam.
Visit their event page here.

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