Piazza Saint Francis: A Proposed Urban Park in San Francisco

One of San Francisco's cherished literary icons -- poet, painter and City Lights publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti -- is celebrating his 90th birthday today, and we thought it would be fitting to bring you his vision for transforming a small block of Vallejo Street in the city's historic North Beach into what would be called the Piazza Saint Francis.

The piazza would be built outside Caffe Trieste, a European-style coffeehouse that for many years has been the gathering place of poets, writers, artists, and filmmakers, including the Beat Generation writers.

Ferlinghetti founded the Piazza Saint Francis Foundation and is working with the San Francisco Planning Department, and many others, including film director Francis Ford Coppola, who worked on his screenplay for the "The Godfather" in Trieste, to create an Italian-style piazza, with inscriptions on the paving stones from up to 30 or 40 authors, mostly poets.

The biggest obstacle to realizing the project is the estimated $3.5 million price tag. The city can't afford to do it, so private funds will need to be raised to make it happen.