One of the hidden treasures of San Francisco is tucked away on a steep hill in the Noe Valley neighborhood. Two long cement slides are waiting for the brave.
Built in the 1960s and designed by a local teenager, the slides are in fact a triumph of neighborhood activism. In 1963, the land on which Corwin Community Garden and Seward Mini-Park sit was a vacant lot for development. Local residents and growing families from nearby streets organized and protested the disappearance of open space and fought for a decade of development, including the staging of a desperate bulldozer in 1966.
In the end, the locals triumphed and turned the lot into a park that opened in 1973. Their efforts have also contributed to a change in city legislation that now requires a minimum amount of open space in new development projects. The slides are surrounded by a small park and a native plant garden in California.
It's a lot easier to slide down on the cardboard. The surface is smooth cement, but the clothing creates some friction and therefore some drag. You're trying to go fast. The best cardboard shape is narrow, maybe a foot wide, or a bit wider, if you can bend your sides up. The slides are narrow enough. Also, ideally, you want both the bottom and the legs on the cardboard, long enough for that. Some people are bringing plastic serving trays.
There's usually some cardboard in there, but not always. It's not really dangerous-the sides are too high to fall out-but some people are scraping their elbows, so make sure you hold your arms in.
It's a steep climb to the top of the slides, but some stairs and railings are there to help. The red one or the yellow one? The two slides run parallel, but the yellow slides are slightly steeper and faster. There's sand in the bottom, so the landing is pretty benign.
How To Get There
From Downtown SF: you can get to the center of town within a few blocks of the park. Take the J-Church Muni Metro from downtown Market Street, get off at 24th Street and Church Street, and catch the 48-Quintara bus. The bus takes you to 21st and Douglass Streets, which is a short walk to the slides (on Seward Street, off Douglass Street, close to 20th Street, see the map above.
The parking lot
There is free on-street parking in the area. Depending on the time of day, it can be tricky. Just make sure to check out the Street Cleaning signs: a big ticket! And turn your wheels on the hills.