Saint Mary's Square

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Saint Mary's Square
St. Mary's Square, SF 1.JPG
The square in 2008
Coordinates37°47′31″N 122°24′19″W / 37.791999°N 122.405240°W / 37.791999; -122.405240Coordinates: 37°47′31″N 122°24′19″W / 37.791999°N 122.405240°W / 37.791999; -122.405240

Saint Mary's Square is a park and urban square across California Street from Old St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco's Chinatown, in the U.S. state of California.[1]


Park signage, 2013

Designed in 1957 by Robert Royston the square is a rooftop park located on the top level of a parking garage in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood. At the time, rooftop gardens were promoted in the city by real estate developers as a means to maximize build able areas, and were most often sited on two‐story, above‐ground parking structures. being one of the first below ground parking structures, the rooftop garden was put into the designs as an afterthought. the current existing park was redesigned from the historic park that occupied the space prior to the implementation of the underground parking.[2]


Royston's design used a system of grids and multiple tones of concrete to draw attention from the geometry of the space, imposed on it by the virtue of being above a parking garage. by implementing low seat walls and the curved nature of the planting beds, he divided up the pedestrian spaces, generating a feeling of nature within the space. The park has access to the street via a wide concrete staircase on one end and an at-grade entrance at the other. An existing row of poplar trees was retained as backdrop for the park, and a sculpture of Sun Yat-Sen by local artist Benny Bufano provides a focal point for the space. The park also includes a playground and refreshment stand.[2][3]

Prominent features[edit]

The park features several culturally significant implements to the surrounding area, being a central community hub for the Chinatown area.

The “Women’s Column of Strength”[edit]

A privately funded statue that was placed in 2017 after being approved by the Board of Supervisors.[4] The memorial is controversial as the sculpture honors the comfort women who were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II. The mayor of Osaka, Japan stated he would sever the sister-city relationship with San Francisco as "the relationship of trust has completely been destroyed".[citation needed]

Statue of Sun Yat-sen[edit]

The statue of Sun Yat-sen by Beniamino Bufano is a 14 foot statue made of red granite and stainless steel, stands in St. Mary's Square.[5][6] It is inscribed: "Dr. Sun Yat Sen 1866-1925 Father of the Chinese Republic and First President Founder of the Kuo Min Tang Champion of Democracy Lover of mankind: Proponent of friendship and peace among the nations, based on equality, justice and goodwill".[7][8]

Memorial plaque[edit]

Memorial plaque

A memorial plaque in dedication to the Americans of Chinese ancestry who gave their lives for America in World Wars I and II. Reads, "We Salute these Americans of Chinese Ancestry who gave their lives for America in World Wars I and II".[7]

Names included on the memorial[7]
Tom Kwong Coom G. Lee Don Tung Sing Faye Lowe William L. Y. Goo
Leo Sai Chin T. Tom Eddie Soo Mo S. Jee Hong S. Hoey
Bill Tom Yuen Hop Manuel K. Soo Alvin Richard Wong Yee Nee Jin
Donald Ginn Chong Walter Tom Lum Harry Chew James Q. Fong Gene F. Lay
Lincoln Mark Tow Jer William Chew Lloyd Quon Jerry M. Lum
Tung Ling Yee Ging Gin Richard W. Chin Frank Wong Rudolph Lym
Harry Wong Benjamin Ralph Kimlau Richard Chong Sing Fa Ping Jeong Wing Jeen
Daniel Lim Samuel Choy Sin Marshall K. Dong Castro Yu Hing Owyang Harry Wong
Clifford S. Low Clinton J. Lok Albert P. Fong Robert W. Chin Wesley Y. Chow
Hon Y. Lee Choy Young Gong B. Fong Charles J. Chan Fan Yee Wong
John Wing Yee Douglas C. Foo Lew B. Tong William J. Quan Jack Dai Sum Yim
Get G. Chung Edward Dewey Quong Wong F. Gin Thomas Yoke Jow Lai Lem Quock Hing
Harry Choy Alwyn G. Wong Lee Wong Gem Sam Wong Lew Hung Biew
Collin S. Chong Tang Chu Don Howard Lee Taft Toy Harry F. Lee
Alfred W. Chin James Sing Harold W. Young Lee Tan John J. Chan
Leslie Y. Gee Yee Sing You Hong Chew Lee Hom Wing On George Lew
Ed Sam Fong Edward Yin Ong Percy Louie Curtis C. Wong Bob Chan
Ah Fong Cheng Kee Yee Lem Sho Ling Yeung Yaun

Other points of note[edit]

A gingko biloba tree planted in March 2017, honors Chinatown activist Rose Pak.[9]

St. Mary's Square includes the former location of the Kong Chow Temple.[9]


  1. ^ "Saint Marys Square". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "St. Mary's Square | The Cultural Landscape Foundation". Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  3. ^ "Robert Royston Oral History | The Cultural Landscape Foundation". Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  4. ^ Sernoffsky, Evan (November 25, 2017). "Japanese mayor says he'll end SF sister city status over comfort women statue". SF Gate. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  5. ^ Pellissier, Hank (2010-06-12). "Local Intelligence | Sun Yat-sen Statue". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  6. ^ "FBI raid in SF may have damaged office once used by founding father of modern China". The San Francisco Examiner. 2014-04-02. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  7. ^ a b c "St. Mary's Square in San Francisco Chinatown - The largest chinatown outside of Asia". San Francisco Chinatown. Tiger Business Development Inc. Retrieved 2020-05-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "St. Marys Square Sculpture - San Francisco CA". Living New Deal. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  9. ^ a b Rodriguez, Joe Fitzgerald (2017-03-15). "SF to plant ginkgo biloba tree in honor of Rose Pak in St. Mary's Park". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2019-01-10.

External links[edit]