Lonely Planet Writer

San Francisco to build new memorial honoring gay rights activist Harvey Milk

An elegant new memorial is to be built in San Francisco to remember one of the city’s most iconic figures, the politician Harvey Milk. Harvey Milk, one of the most famous gay rights activists of his era, was assassinated almost forty years ago and a plaza in the city already named after him is being redesigned to honor his memory.

The Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro district. Image by Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza

The simple, yet beautiful, memorial will be built at the existing Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro district, the heartbeat of San Francisco’s LGBQT community. Harvey Milk led soapbox political rallies at the plaza and it has since become a gathering place for both protests and celebrations in the community. The site of the memorial is at the Castro Muni Metro station, where thousands of tourists come to visit one of San Francisco’s most famous neighbourhoods. The winning design by Perkins Eastman was chosen from 33 different entries from the Bay Area, the wider US, Canada, and as far afield as Sweden.

The memorial is at Castro Muni Metro station. Image by Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza

The memorial features an amphitheatre – set within a bright orange floor – that rises up above the plaza. A timeline marking the key chapters in Milk’s life will also be included. The giant rainbow flag, which has flown above the plaza for decades, will be retained while the top of the ramped amphitheatre will create new views over the city. For anyone visiting San Francisco in the weeks to come, two special artworks will also be on display to mark the fortieth anniversary of Harvey Milk’s election as San Francisco’s first openly gay public representative.

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The first is called Harvey’s Halo, a dramatic installation that sends beams of rainbow coloured lights into the night sky.

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The second is a neon sign above the plaza immortalising Harvey Milk’s most famous words: Hope Will Never Be Silent.