POTUS? PoMo? No it’s POPOS: Privately Owned Public Open Spaces. Throughout SoMa and the Financial District, these little parks, atriums, alleyways and rooftop gardens are nestled in private buildings and totally open to the public — for free.
Many of these spots were made as a result of a 1985 law that required private buildings to allocate a certain amount space for public use. We checked out the few open spaces that are on rooftops (because obviously the rooftop ones are the most exciting), and compiled a list of the best. Hopefully this list will give you some new places to lunch at!
1. 343 Sansome St.
You can also get a good look at the three hooded statues at the top of the 23-story building at 580 California Street.
The views are great, the seating is plentiful, and how could you go wrong with a colorful obelisk sundial? This rooftop is a must-see.
Directions: Enter the lobby and go past the front desk to take the elevator to the 15th floor. As with all of these open spaces, if a security guard or doorman asks where you are going, tell them you want to see the building’s open space. The spaces are all open to the public.
2. 100 1st St.
Directions: The roof garden sits atop the 100 1st St. garage which is accessible on Mission St. Just go up the stairs beside the garage and you’ll be there.
3. Crocker Galleria (50 Post St.)
The terrace is closer to the ground than the higher up Sansome rooftop garden, so it serves as a good vantage point for watching the hustle and bustle of Market.
Directions: Take the escalator to the third floor of the Galleria and head to the left down the hallway marketed “Garden Terrace.”
4. 1 Kearny St. (Entrance at 23 Geary Blvd.)
Directions: Enter the lobby at 23 Geary Blvd. and sign in at the front desk. Be sure to bring an ID with you, because they ask to check it before you go up. Take the left elevator up because the right one only goes to the 10th floor.
5. 150 California St.
Directions: Enter the lobby and take the elevators on the right to the 6th floor. Out of the elevators head right to the terrace.
6. 555 California St.
Directions: The terrace connects to the sidewalk at the cross section of Kearny St. and California St.
NOTE: We did not rank the Westfield Sky Terrace at 835 Market Street because the terrace was undergoing repairs at the time this article was written and could not be visited. Authorities were unable to give us an estimate as to when the Terrace would be reopened. When it is open, you can access it by entering the building to the left of the Westfield Mall with a SF State flag over it and taking the elevator to the 9th floor. It sounds very cool, and we are disappointed we were unable to include it in the list.
UPDATE 8/27/15: We just caught wind from Hoodline of a new POPUS in SoMa — it “sits 17-stories-high on the roof of the newly-completed Hampton Inn at 942 Mission St.” Add it to your list!
Which rooftop open space is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.
[All Photos © JP Cavender]