Heritage Plaza Public Art

The new Heritage Plaza, formally opened with a community celebration July 17, is and will be home to an increasing array of interpretive signs and art pieces speaking to Hayward’s diverse cultures and cultural histories from the Muwekma Ohlone through the World War II experience of interned Japanese-Americans to today.


The Plaza dates back to the formative days of Hayward in the 1840’s, when it was part of the homestead of rancher Don Guillermo Castro. When Don Castro subdivided and sold his land in the 1850’s (which created the street layout of downtown Hayward still in use today), he dedicated Heritage Plaza for use as a public plaza into perpetuity.

Heritage Elements:

The Plaza is home to interpretative signs and art pieces that commemorate the diverse experiences and cultures of Hayward’s rich history. Three art pieces planned for the plaza are in honor of: the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, whose ancestors called the Hayward area home prior to colonization; the Japanese-American community, who were bussed from what is now Heritage Plaza to incarceration camps during World War II; and Russell City, an incorporated community that was declared blighted by the County and annexed by the City of Hayward in the 1960s, displacing its residents.

Japanese American Commemorative Marker & Art: The commemorative marker and companion work of art will memorialize the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II—600 of whom boarded buses on Watkins Street in downtown Hayward bound for a detention center at Tanforan Racetrack in San Bruno and later for confinement camps in the Utah desert and elsewhere.

On Sept. 8, 2021, the City of Hayward unveiled the memorial to commemorate the Japenese American experience before, during and after WWII. The panels honor the life experiences throught thier forced removal, unjust incarceration, honorable military service and resettlement. 

During the event it was also announced that the City of Hayward has selected artist Patricia Wakida to create a commissioned work of art that will be installed with the historical marker.

Watch a video of the unveiling here ➡︎

Muwekma Ohlone Tribe Art Piece: The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe commemortive art piece will honor and memorialize the First People of this region, Muwekma Ohlone Tribal People. The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe Art Committee has selected artist, Louis Chinn, to creatge a commissioned work of art to be installed in the plaza. 

Learn more about the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe here ➡︎

Russell City Heritage Art Piece: The Russell City Art Committee kicked-off in March of 2021, and now meets every two weeks. There are two goals to this project. First, to design and create plaques that both inform the public of the history and legacy of Russell City and honor the struggles of the former residents. After the plaques are created, the committee will focus on commissioning an artist to create a public art piece that is representative of Russell City that will be placed in the Heritage Plaza.

The City of Hayward’s Russell City Art Committee is seeking proposals for a permanent artwork to be installed in its beautiful new Hayward Heritage Plaza. Proposals must be submitted by 5:00 PM on Thursday, June 30, 2022. 

Learn more and download the full RFP here ➡︎

Additional Plaza Features:

  • Gathering & Event Spaces – The Plaza includes a 25,000-square foot central event lawn and an 11,000-square foot paved plaza along C Street. These two spaces have a combined event capacity of nearly 4,000 people. An elevated platform and arbor at the edge of the event lawn includes electrical access for cultural events, musical performances and other civic gatherings
  • Arboretum - The Plaza is home to over forty species of rare and mature trees. The trees, some of which are over one-hundred years old, were preserved in the plaza restoration. Placards identifying the notable trees are installed along meandering “arboretum walk” paths on either side of the central event lawn
  • Children’s Garden – The Plaza includes a 2,150-square foot garden on the corner of C Street and Watkins Street, featuring nature-inspired exploration structures for young children
  • Rainwater Catchment System – The Plaza functions as a rainwater catchment and underground rainwater storage and filtration system. The system collects and reuses up to 200,000 gallons of rainwater annually, which is treated and reused for irrigation and gray water uses in the new library building and plaza