Yerba Buena was the name of the town in the Mexican territory of Alta California that became the city of San Francisco, California, after it was claimed by the United States in 1846.
Yerba Buena Gardens is the name for two blocks of public parks located between Third and Fourth, Mission and Folsom Streets in downtown San Francisco. The first block bordered by Mission and Howard Streets was opened in 1993 and the second between Howard and Folsom Streets in 1998. A pedestrian bridge over Howard Street connects the two blocks, sitting on top of part of the Moscone Center. The Yerba Buena Gardens are owned by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and were planned and built as the centerpiece of the Yerba Buena Redevelopment Area.
The first block contains several public art installations. The Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial is located behind a waterfall, which is the largest fountain on the West Coast. The memorial consists of large, etched glass excerpts of King's speeches in the languages of San Francisco's sister cities. On the terrace level above the waterfall is the sister cities garden, where visitors can see an expertly manicured garden with plants representing each of San Francisco's sister cities, as well as a partial view of the downtown skyline. In the North block is located the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and in the South block is located Zeum, an award winning children's media and technology museum. An ice skating rink, a bowling alley, and a restored 1905 carousel originally located at Playland-at-the-Beach can also be found in the South block.
Eateries within the gardens include the B Restaurant and Grill and the Samovar Tea Lounge on the North block's terrace, Mo's Grill on the South block's upper walkway, and a snack shop by the carousel.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is located across the street, the temporary home of California Academy of Sciences was less than a block away, and the Cartoon Art Museum is nearby as well. The new location of the Museum of Craft and Folk Art (MOCFA) is less than one block towards Market, as is the brand new Museum of the African Diaspora located in the St. Regis Museum tower. Currently being built across Mission St. are the Mexican Heritage Museum and the Contemporary Jewish Museum.