Market Street has been getting a lot of attention lately, and not necessarily in a bad way.
Recent efforts by San Francisco city officials and agencies have focused on beautifying and improving this long stretch -- through real estate development (hello, Twitter) to commissioning a New Yoker artist to create Market Street posters for the area.
Now, the Mayor's office has collaborated with the Exploratorium to create the first of a series of areas called Living Innovation Zones. This week, Tourism for Locals is highlighting one of their new the interactive science displays called Whispering Dishes, which was erected this past weekend.
Whispering Dishes is located at the intersection of Yerba Buena Lane at Market, between the Four Seasons Hotel and the Westfield Shopping Center. The scientific artwork features two, 8-feet-tall concave, parabolic dishes facing each other across a 50-foot distance in the sidewalk. The dishes focus sound in such a way that people can easily hear each other whispering, even while surrounded by honking traffic and pedestrian chatter.
Funded through public and private funds, and an Indiegogo campaign that ends next week, Living Installation Zones are meant to be physical manifestations of the economic and technological advances from some of the most innovative people, institutions, and companies based in San Francisco, according to a placard next to the installation.
The L.I.Z. program also intends to continue transforming city-owned spaces through various partnerships with creative organizations to further San Francisco's "inventive, progressive, questing, and playful spirit."
"This unique initiative brings innovation that is sometimes behind closed doors and brings it out into the light of day where we can all learn and be inspired by it," said Mayor Lee, in a press conference. "I'm excited to see our sidewalks come alive with new ideas, and I believe it is initiatives like these that underscore our commitment to innovation and helps secure our reputation as the Innovation Capital of the World."
But more importantly, as a local, this area creates a wonderful opportunity to engage in one of our guilty pleasures: people watching/judging. We personally like walking between the dishes and catching snippets of conversations. Moreover, this installation provides an opportunity to break away from the bustle of mid-Market, and actually appreciate this part of San Francisco.
Best part of all?
There is a bike station next to the concave dishes that allows you to charge your phone or other electronic devices while you people watch. Hopefully SFPD won't crack down on this new San Franciscan pastime like it did on those chess players a little further down Market.