SFSU: How the Community Plays – McCoppin Square Park

McCoppin Square

I chose McCoppin Square Park for my observation because I pass by it almost every day while taking the “L” line on MUNI going to work or school and I never get the chance to really explore it. McCoppin Square is a 7-acre park, which is located on Taraval Street between 24th and 21st Avenue. This park offers: two playgrounds (one of them is gated), tennis courts, walking paths, a baseball field and green open space perfect for picnics. The thing that captured my attention the most is that there is a library right next to it. That is such a great idea and I’d honestly never seen that before. Coming up on Taraval Street you are only able to see the corner of the park which is just the playground area so I was really surprised when I found out that there was more to it, I just had to walk up the hill for the back half of the park where the courts were located.

I love how accessible this park is, I literally stepped off the train and was right in front of the playground, which is where I started my observation. I began by observing the surroundings. This side is located right in the corner of a busy street which is probably common in San Francisco Parks but not really that popular where I’m from so I found that really interesting. Like I previously mentioned, the San Francisco Public Library Parkside Branch is right next to it, and it’s also surrounding by lots of small businesses and restaurants. This led me to believe that you can definitely make a day out of it with family or friends. There are definitely certain hours of the day when the parks get filled up with people but there are also many times when it’s very lonely. Luckily, I went a perfect time around 3:30 p.m. At this hour, the park was filled with students around the age of 15. Passing by on the MUNI I always asked myself why there were so many students at this park and I came to realize that behind the park, there is a high school, Abraham Lincoln High School to be exact. Seriously, the location of this park couldn’t get any better.

I had the pleasure of having a conversation with a mother of two. Her two little girls were playing on the swings and she sat down and took a break. I took this chance to talk to her to see if she visited the park often and what she liked the most. “I visit this park almost every day, the girls love to come here and play and once we’re ready to go we like to pick out a book at the library to read when we get home” she stated.  What she loves most about the park is the location, she said its walking distance from her house and once the girls are tired from playing around, they can take the MUNI back home. She said the park can sometimes become over-populated with high school students in the playground close to Taraval Street, so when this happens she likes to take the girls to the gated playground which is suitable for younger children.  Besides the playground, there were a couple of people just lying on the grass and I even saw a couple having a picnic these people were a bit older, maybe around 22 years old.

There are only a few things I would suggest for the Recreation and Parks Department to help them manage McCoppin Square Park. There were a few signs, with the RPD Logo in front of the park that I believe could be replaced with new ones because the color was completely faded and I think this makes it look like the park isn’t maintained as well as it should be. The other thing I would probably suggest it to create programs or another field that would attract the high school students. By the looks of it, this park is a popular place for the students to go after school and by having that conversation with the mother of two, I know that this sometimes makes parents feel uncomfortable.  I would also suggest the library partnering up with the park and creating a program where someone leads a group of children to a specific area of the park and reads a book to them and engage children in the beauty of playing outside. They can possibly re-create the book in real life. Overall, I believe the Recreation and Parks Department is doing a good job maintaining this park and I hope it stays open because people really seem to love it.