Mayor Breed Celebrates Launch of New 'Landing at Leidesdorff' Downtown Destination

Landing at Leidesdorff reimagines historic alleyways to create a new downtown destination, advancing a key initiative of Mayor Breed’s Roadmap to San Francisco’s Future
September 21, 2023

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today joined civic leaders to officially open a new gathering place for residents, workers and visitors at the intersection of Commercial and Leidesdorff Streets in the heart of Downtown. Landing at Leidesdorff enhances two of the City’s historic alleyways to create a pedestrian-friendly space, offering outdoor dining and cocktails by local restaurants, live music and cultural programing, and new murals highlighting San Francisco’s history and arts.  

The new space is the cumulation of a joint effort by Downtown SF Partnership (DSFP), the community benefit district that oversees 43 blocks across San Francisco’s Financial District and Jackson Square Historic District, SITELAB urban studio, a leading strategic urban design firm, and the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). Landing at Leidesdorff is one of many key initiatives of Mayor Breed’s Roadmap to San Francisco’s Future, a comprehensive plan to reinvigorate Downtown and solidify San Francisco’s reputation as a thriving global destination.   

"Landing at Leidesdorff celebrates our City’s rich history, the arts and local entrepreneurs that together, reaffirm Downtown as a destination for people who work, live and visit to be able to come together to enjoy an iconic space that is uniquely San Francisco," said Mayor London Breed. "So many partners have been involved to see this space come to life, not only to enhance the area but to pay homage to one of San Francisco's earliest Black leaders, deepening our rich history and the significance of this community through art."   

“Working with the Downtown SF Partnership over the past many months to re-envision the downtown public realm has been an energizing collaboration,” said Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin. “There are so many opportunity sites in our network of historic alleyways and downtown plazas that are ripe for activation and investment. I’m delighted that we were able to convene an interagency workgroup to make Landing at Leidesdorff and Commercial Alleys an exciting, vibrant pedestrian plaza where downtown workers, residents, foodies, Jackson Square designers and artists will mix and mingle.”  

As part of Mayor Breed’s Budget investments for Downtown recovery efforts, the project has been in development since 2022 and is funded through an economic recovery grant from OEWD, private fundraising for a new wall mural by ACED: Arts, Elevate, Celebrate Downtown, a new public arts initiative that is based in Jackson Square and fiscally sponsored by local arts non-profit SOMArts, and ongoing funding for programming, cleaning and stewardship from the Downtown SF Partnership.  

"Landing at Leidesdorff truly embodies the vision Mayor Breed has laid out for the future of Downtown as a vibrant, mixed-use destination with something for everybody," said Sarah Dennis Phillips, Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. "Our public realm needs to act as an invitation to residents, workers and visitors, and this new destination offers a winning model for Downtown that we look forward to building on."   

Landing at Leidesdorff is the first pilot to be deployed as part of the Public Realm Action Plan (PRAP), a comprehensive plan that includes physical, programmatic, and organizational recommendations to reimagine the future of Downtown San Francisco that was released by DSFP and SITELAB in 2022. The PRAP outlines six replicable public realm concepts and pilot programs, leaning on urban design as a means of economic recovery.  

“The Downtown SF Partnership is thrilled to open and celebrate the launch of Landing at Leidesdorff – a testament to what true public-private partnership and meaningful investment can yield for this incredible city,” said Robbie Silver, Executive Director of the Downtown SF Partnership. “San Francisco can no longer follow the status quo. For traditional commercial corridors, like downtown San Francisco, to survive they need to become multi-use and encourage engagement outside the 9-5. In launching Landing at Leidesdorff, we hope to create even more momentum in the area, bring folks back downtown and engage the ones that never left.”   

“At this moment, San Francisco has an opportunity to be a leader in rethinking downtowns and the role the public realm can play as an invitation and a spark for creativity,” said Laura Crescimano, Principal and Co-founder of SITELAB urban studio. “With this pilot, we are reimagining SF’s public realm, by literally resurfacing the historic alleyway and coastline of SF and returning the space of the street to activities for public life.”  

A New Downtown Destination   

Sitting at the crossroads of the Transamerica Pyramid, Embarcadero Center, Chinatown, and the Financial District, Landing at Leidesdorff transforms the intersection of two underutilized historic alleyways into a new pedestrian-oriented and vibrant space. The destination features a combination of public realm enhancements and programming including:  

  • Varied programing such as DSFP’s Downtown Street Jams pop-up music series, outdoor fitness classes hosted by premier local gym Luxfit, and arts and cultural events like the Let’s Glow SF holiday light projection mapping event, which attracted over 50,000 people and an average spending of $121 per attendee in the Downtown area for last year’s event  
  • Expanded outdoor dining and drinks from area restaurants such as Heartwood, Wayfare Tavern, Tlaloc Sabor Mexicano and MIX
  • Newly installed string lighting, tables and chairs, lounge chairs and landscaping  
  • New ground and wall murals celebrating San Francisco’s rich history and the arts  
  • Regular cleaning, power washing and safety presence provided by DSFP's ambassadors  

“The Heartwood team couldn’t be more excited about Landing at Leidesdorff – a truly unique and groundbreaking project for San Francisco.  More than ever, San Francisco (and in particular the Financial District) has a need for bold new concepts,” said Tristen Philippart de Foy, Managing Partner of Heartwood. “The collaboration of all those involved to get the Landing up and running is an example of what can get done when San Franciscans put our heads together and think outside the norm. This vision has been realized by working to strengthen the sense of “community” in one of the most majestic downtown areas in the country.  San Francisco now has a blueprint on how to change not just the narrative of a neighborhood, but how the neighborhood is used.”   

Highlighting San Francisco’s Rich History and the Arts  

Landing at Leidesdorff honors the rich history of San Francisco, and of one of the city’s earliest leaders, Captain William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. with a pair of new murals and accompanying interpretive signage.  

A San Francisco founding father and one of the most prominent Black and biracial citizens of early California, Leidesdorff’s business ventures also made him one of the first Black millionaires in America. He served as a member of the inaugural town council of Yerba Buena (as San Francisco was then known), the United States Vice Consul to Mexico in San Francisco, and as a member of San Francisco’s first school board. Leidesdorff donated land to create the first public school in California. These accomplishments led him to be known as the “African founding father of California.”  

“The ‘Landing at Leidesdorff’ concept is an amazing representation of San Francisco’s pioneering spirit. Like Leidesdorff himself, Mayor London Breed is leading along with the great teams at Downtown SF and SITELAB to create more fun and commerce downtown. In addition to his civic contributions, Leidesdorff fathered many San Francisco industries such as tourism, hotels, finance, and even piloted the first steamship, the Sitka, on the San Francisco Bay which is shown in the California State seal,” said Thor Kaslofsky, descendant of William Leidesdorff and Executive Director of the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure. “As his great great great grand-nephew I am proud of what he accomplished, and as head of Mayor London Breed’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, I bring that same familial commitment to investing in San Francisco. Our family is ecstatic and honored with the Leidesdorff mural and look forward to enjoying the Landing at Leidesdorff space!”  

In his honor, a new mural on the wall of a PG&E substation at the corner of Commercial and Leidesdorff was commissioned by ACED with funding provided through private donations. The wall mural, titled “Beyond the Sea – the life and legacy of Captain Leidesdorff,” was created by the Twin Walls Mural Company, a Bay Area art studio owned by women of color.  

The site also features a new ground mural, designed by SITELAB urban studio, that tells the story of Downtown’s early history by memorializing the City’s historic shoreline, which once ran just west of Leidesdorff Street and along the historic Long Wharf that served as a central place to unload goods coming into San Francisco during the Gold Rush. The ground mural, installed by Asphalt Impressions, further elevates the cultural and artistic history of Downtown by including a stanza from “The Cool, Grey City of Love” by San Francisco’s turn-of-the-century Bohemian poet, George Sterling.  

"Strong strategic partnerships like this demonstrate the power of bringing communities from the creative, public and private sectors together,” said Céline Ricci, ACED Co-Chair and Programming Director of 836M, a Jackson Square-based non-profit arts organization. “In line with Landing at Leidesdorff is the belief that incorporating art into public space is part of creating a cultural destination and can help turn the tide in diversifying what downtown has to offer. Broad and creative solutions that open up public spaces and activate it with art, is the future of San Francisco, and ACED is proud to contribute to incorporating arts and culture in the Financial District."