M. Justin Herman, also known as Meyer Justin Herman (1909–1971), was the executive director of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency from 1959 until his death in 1971. During that time he was one of the driving forces behind large changes that were led by the agency including the redevelopment of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the destruction and redevelopment of a large part of the Western Addition (also known as the Fillmore District) which was predominantly African American at the time, and attempts to redevelop Japantown. He displace lots of people of color in different parts of the city of San Francisco and he was met with a strong mixed reception.
"Herman was extremely effective in obtaining federal funding for redevelopment. His twelve-year tenure lasted through the mayoralties of George Christopher, John Shelley, and into the term of Joseph Alioto. His time at the Agency also coincided with the most activist period in the nation's history for federal involvement in urban renewal. This era began with the establishment of HUD as a cabinet-level department and the plentiful flow of federal dollars to cities for urban renewal. The flow would last into the 1970's." [source]
Fun fact: the big plaza in front of the Ferry Building with the terrifying giant pipe water sculpture use to be called the Justin Herman Plaza after this very Justin Herman. In 2017, the plaza was renamed the Embarcadeo Plaza, because of the Herman's legacy of poor housing policies that disadvantaged many people.
Links and more
- M. Justin Herman on Wikipedia (in English)
- "Who was Justin Herman?" on SF Answers
- "Who was Justin Herman?" from bradleymanningplaza.org
- A history of the Fillmore with some info about Justin Herman's involvement in the neighborhood's redevelopment
- March 1, 1999: "50 Years of Redevelopment" from SPUR
- Justin Herman Plaza (formerly named after him)