What would you say is the most identifiable and “iconic” thing about Terwilliger Parkway? The views and lush natural vegetation may be what people most like about Terwilliger, but they don’t really signify the parkway itself. The roadway and adjoining path are the spine of the linear park and are the most significant piece of park infrastructure, but they aren’t very iconic. We think that the historic streetlights that line the roadway are its most identifiable feature.
Many of the light poles are original, going back over one hundred years to the earliest days of the parkway. The concrete light poles were installed before the roadway was paved and curbs installed (see picture.) You can think of them as the vertebrae to the roadway’s curving spine, creating a regular cadence that draws the traveler along the parkway in a kinetic experience of moving past ever-changing forest and city views.
The original light fixtures on top of the poles were round globes that were preferred by the Olmsted Brothers in many of their parks around the country (shown here.) They were handsome and modern, but vulnerable to vandalism. At some point they were replaced by the more utilitarian and less attractive mushroom-shaped fixtures that are currently in place. And numerous poles have been knocked over by speeding and out-of-control cars and replaced with newer, taller poles. The poles that remain are cracked and deteriorating and slated for eventual replacement by the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT, which maintains the lights and roadway.)
Unfortunately, PBOT takes a very utilitarian view toward Terwilliger Parkway rather than recognizing it as historic. When light poles need replacing, they don’t replace them in the same location between the pathway and road, but rather behind the pathway, further from the road. This breaks the uniformity and cadence of the historic light poles and creates a haphazard look. We are working with PBOT to get them to respect the historic light placement and replace them in the same location. This will be especially important when the remaining crumbling light poles are replaced. PBOT also plans to convert the light fixtures on top to energy-saving LED fixtures.
The Friends of Terwilliger(FOT) continue to advocate for the full implementation of the 1983 Terwilliger Parkway Corridor Plan, Ordinance No. 155241, which outlines, on pages 20-21 of the plan, Capital Improvement items G and H which identify the following:
G. Existing lighting fixtures shall be restored to their original design and new lights of similar design shall be placed along the Boulevard between
SW Capitol Highway and SW Barbur Boulevard at SW Burlingame.
H. Additional lighting shall be added to portions of the Trail separated from the Boulevard.”
We would like them to use a more historic and attractive light fixture such as the original globe shape, or the acorn shape seen on most downtown streetlights. It is for this reason that the Friends of Terwilliger is interested in the street lighting replacement project and the opportunity it presents to implement these identified and authorized Terwilliger Parkway capital improvements. It should also be noted that the historic streetlights go from Duniway Park/ SW Sheridan St at the north, to SW Capitol Hwy. at the south, but do not continue south of SW Capitol Hwy. to SW Barbur Blvd. It’s our goal to continue the historic style lights all the way to SW Barbur Blvd in order to tie together the whole length of Terwilliger Parkway, from end to end, with its most identifiable and iconic feature.