I’ve been a long-time enthusiast of the “hidden parks” of San Francisco, more commonly known as POPOS. Oftentimes, these spaces are deliberately designed to be as inconspicuous as possible in order to reduce the amount of traffic (and by extension, maintenance expenses) associated with legally keeping the space open to the public.

Yesterday, I my first-ever hidden public library! I had the opportunity to speak with Judge Fletcher and Judge Cuéllar yesterday as part of my fellowship at the Aspen Institute Tech Policy Hub. We met at the San Francisco location of the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, which is housed in the James R. Browning Building on the corner of 7th and Mission. This building is absolutely gorgeous and I would recommend any SF resident to pop in and take a look – apparently there are free public tours! It was constructed in 1905 and is full of ornate fixtures simply unfathomable in today’s era – ceiling mosaics, huge brass art deco eagles, massive chandeliers, and marble everywhere.

In the middle of this grandeur is a discreetly marked door. This door leads to the law library, a airy space well-lit with natural light. The only indication that this space is available to anyone, free of charge, is a small sign on the door – there’s virtually no information about the space online.

I would highly, highly recommend checking out this hidden gem the next time you’re in SOMA.