Creating a community plaza in Hayward

This capacity diagram shows the size of Heritage Plaza. It is equal to the size of San Francisco’s Union Square. Heritage Plaza’s two main plaza areas – one in the center oval, and one along the C Street hardscape – have a total capacity for up to 4,000 event attendees.


To get a sense of the scale, check out the the little red rectangles inside the center oval. Those represent 20′ long food trucks. The little red squares at the top of the oval represent 10′ by 10′ farmer’s market tents.

Heritage Plaza dates back to Hayward’s founding days in the mid-1800’s. The site was part of the homestead of Hayward’s first landowner and rancher, Don Guillermo Castro. When Castro subdivided and sold his land holdings in 1864, he dedicated one full city block to the people of Hayward for use as a public plaza in perpetuity.

Today, this plaza is filled with century-old heritage trees, and will be restored to its historic roots as an open space and community gathering place. After the new 21st Century Library is built and the deteriorating old main library is torn down, Heritage Plaza will be fully restored to its former glory as Hayward’s premier central plaza for community festivals, farmer’s markets, music and cultural performances, civic observances and other community events for generations to come.

“Now we can dance: The story of Hayward’s Gay Prom”

Now We Can Dance: The Story of the Hayward Gay Prom is a short documentary film produced by Hayward Public Library in 2013. The film celebrates Hayward’s long-standing Gay Prom event. It chronicles the controversy surrounding the 1995 creation of the gay prom and the significance of having a traditional high school dance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teenagers. The film was a featured documentary at the international Frameline Film Festival in 2014.

Hayward’s Gay Prom was the brainchild of the Lambda Youth Project, an LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender) support group. Each year, hundreds of youth from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond come to Hayward’s Gay Prom event because it is a safe place to be themselves and celebrate with other like-minded youth. It is believed to be the longest-running youth LGBT prom event in the nation.


Now We Can Dance is a culmination of a two-year documentary project spearheaded by Hayward Library with funding from Cal Humanities. Local teens were trained in filmmaking by a team of Hayward Public Library staff and professional advisors, including Academy Award-winning documentary film director Debra Chasnoff. The film features interviews with early prom organizers, attendees, and supportive community members interspersed with footage from the 2011 gay prom and interviews with recent prom goers, volunteers, and even a protester.

The 17-minute documentary video is available on the Hayward Library website, Youtube, Vimeo, and on Facebook. Hayward Library also developed an accompanying school curriculum that addresses Common Core standards and provides discussion questions that can be used by any group. The curriculum can be downloaded here.

Kudos to my colleague and fellow Hayward librarian Laurie Willis for her extraordinary work producing this film.