Corporate perk turned neighborhood stalwart, Esprit is now getting a makeover
First there was Levi, then The Gap and then Esprit....a remnant of the once powerful garment industry of San Francisco, the park is named for Esprit de Corp., the iconic San Francisco clothing label that inspired trendy sportswear fashion with its colorful and casual style. In 1972, Esprit transformed the former Schilling Wine Cellars warehouse on Minnesota Street into their corporate headquarters. The brick building was constructed in 1906 and still stands near the park, repurposed as loft-style homes.
Claiming a full city block bounded by Minnesota, Indiana, 19th and 20th streets, Esprit Park's mini-forest softens the surrounding urban edges. This sliver of green was here, wedged between Highway 280 and warehouses, long before residential units started popping up around it.
In 1982, the company set aside this land as a private park envisioning a forest surrounding a meadow. Nearly 35 years later, that is exactly what it has become.
It was a place where corporate events were held, but it was also open for public recreation. For a while the park became a rotating sculpture garden, featuring large-scale works on loan from local galleries by such artists as Mark di Suvero, Henry Moore, William Turnbull, Charles Ginnever and George Rickey. And the only grass tennis court in the city bordered the park on the north--reserved for Esprit employees.
In 2001 as the company prepared to relocate out of San Francisco, and the land was about to be sold off for condominium development, the Dogpatch community rallied to save the park and Esprit donated the land to SF RecPark. The company has since folded, but the park remains a favorite neighborhood spot for exercising and enjoying a bit of green and is just about to get a face lift. Take a survey on the new design options here.
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.