The “Comfort Women” Monument at St. Mary’s Square is a culturally and historically significant public space in the greater Chinatown community and within the heart of Downtown San Francisco. With mature trees, many benches and a small children’s playground it serves as a nice area to relax and now learn about and remember these brave women.
This new space is a dynamic open area that serves as an interface between the park and the newly renovated 500 Pine professional building. There is ample opportunity for active and leisure outdoor activities as well as quite contemplation and respite all situated within a grand view of the Financial District.
St. Mary’s Square is situated on California Street between Grant and Kearny, originally the home of the Kong Chow Temple built in 1854 by the Kong Chow Benevolent Association. The park was donated by the Catholic Diocese in 1910 and thereafter the Diocese donated the sculpture of Sun Yat Sen, first democratic President of China, sculpted by artist Benny Buffano. St. Mary’s Square is also home to the fallen Chinese American Veterans of Chinatown Memorial. Great gestures of common humanity expressed through art define the history of Saint Mary’s Square.
In 1957, Landscape Architect Robert Royston re-designed the park to accommodate the insertion of a parking garage, adding now classically modernist curvilinear planting beds to bring nature into the geometry of the growing city.
The Comfort Women Memorial proposes to provide a critical anchor in this precious environment, a peaceful harbor within the City, not just a monument to, but an activator of safety and justice for women and girls.