Benches & Fallen Bridge parks
The gardens that tie together Potrero despite the freeway that tries to divide
Located on opposite sides of the 101 freeway, Benches Garden and Fallen Bridge Park are both community led efforts to buffer the freeway noise and pollution from homes in Potrero.
A footbridge over US 101 connects Fallen Bridge to its sister, the Benches Garden and plaza by crossing 18th Street. It links the neighborhoods severed by the building of the freeway in the 1950s. Both parks sit on state highway land.
Fallen Bridge got its name in the late 1960’s when a freeway accident caused the collapse of the footbridge. The bridge was eventually reconstructed, and the Potrero Boosters Neighborhood Association worked with then District Supervisor Robert Gonzales and Caltrans to repurpose the vacant and neglected property. But over the years the park fell into disrepair and elements of the RPD park were removed as they failed. In 2008, the first of four Community Challenge Grants were obtained by the MUNA neighborhood organization. The grants funded the stonework, the pétanque court, a landscaped circular path under the footbridge, and improved lighting for better nighttime safety. The trash, debris and graffiti were replaced with a welcome neighborhood amenity.
Benches was named for four benches with a beautified rest area established when neighbors worked with Babette Drefske and Ann Sustrich of Potrero Beautiful and the Youth Conservation Corps to clear and plant the site in 1970. It is a Caltrans freeway parcel located at the east end of the 18th Street footbridge over HWY 101. Benches Garden, created in 2008 by the San Bruno Neighborhood Association, offers a meandering walkway, a small plaza for neighborhood gatherings and exercise and the park’s namesake benches. It is a favorite rest stop for pedestrians walking east and west through Potrero Hill.
Benches Garden and Plaza is one of the oldest community parks the GBD helps to maintain. The San Bruno Neighborhood Association worked with the GBD to enlarge the plaza, and the GBD took out a CCG grant for lighting, irrigation, planting and enlarging the plaza.
Visit dogpatchna.org/scavenger-hunt to join the community fun as our gift to you during this year's "holidays at home" Shelter in Place.