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Posts from the "Park(ing) Day" Category

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Park(ing) Day Scenes From Around the United States

It was only eight years ago that the international movement known as Park(ing) Day got started (in San Francisco or New York, depending on whom you ask). In a short time, this fun way to demonstrate the squandered potential of ordinary parking spaces has become a global phenomenon.

Today, in cities across the United States and around the world, people are using parking spaces to express aspirations for their cities. We’ve compiled some images of their work — from Muncie, Indiana, to Berkeley, California. I think these demonstrations offer a pretty powerful message about the demand for more livable cities. Check it out:

Here’s Atlanta, via ATLUrbanist:

Dallas, via Patrick McDonnell:

Read more…

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Happy Park(ing) Day

A shout out to our colleague Philip Winn for this parking-to-park animation, starring the OpenPlans Park(ing) Day installation at Crosby and Howard Streets, near Streetsblog headquarters.

If you haven’t seen Angie’s Capitol Hill post from this afternoon — featuring curbside parks from Phoenix, Arizona, to Portland, Maine — don’t miss it. And all those photos don’t begin to convey the scope of today’s festivities. Looking at tweets and media coverage from around the world, it’s clear that Park(ing) Day, much like Summer Streets-style events, has hit the mainstream.

Nice job, everyone.

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Park(ing) Day Once Again Sweeps the Globe

One of our favorite aspects of Park(ing) Day is its international scope. Across the world, people know that street space is public space. Today’s the day they show how it can be re-purposed to provide more than parking. Check out the Park(ing) Day Flickr tag to see some truly impressive curbside installations from places like Krakow, Munich, and San Francisco.

The photos in the slideshow above all come from sites set up by the field offices of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Very cool stuff.

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Shakespeare In The Park(ing) Spot

Fordham actors play out the thrilling conclusion of a Shakespearean tragedy, just blocks away from Lincoln Center. Photo: Noah Kazis.

In New York City, some of the most active participants in Park(ing) Day, the celebration of on-street public space, are students. The largest street reclamation I saw today was put on by Fordham undergraduates, who converted what looked like three parking spaces into a stage and auditorium for a day of Shakespeare In The Parking Spot.

Architecture students made an impressive stage for Fordham's Shakespeare in the Parking Spot. Photo: Noah Kazis.

Set up as a collaboration between architecture and theater students, elaborate cardboard structures provided seating as actors staged scenes and soliloquies above the din of Columbus Avenue traffic. Signs like “To Park or Not To Park?” added a bit of extra wit to the event, though I was disappointed not to see any play on Lady Macbeth’s “Out Damned Spot” monologue.

Columbia planning students imagined their parking space as a fire escape being used for urban agriculture. Photo: Noah Kazis

Further uptown, Columbia’s urban planning students compared the area of a parking space to the area of a fire escape, arguing that both were underutilized urban spaces. They created their own fire escape on the side of Broadway, complete with clothesline and urban agriculture. Read more…

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Park(ing) Day 2011: Find Your Favorite Park(ing) Spot

The forecast is sunny and seasonable for Park(ing) Day 2011 here in New York City, so get ready to enjoy the annual celebration of the public spaces that are our neighborhood streets. At 34 locations in all five boroughs, New Yorkers will be taking over curbside parking spaces with installations that are by turns relaxing, playful, political and creative.

Some of the parking spaces will be used to showcase visions for even bigger changes to the transportation system. “Out With The Sheridan Distress-Way” will be found on the Bronx’s Southern Boulevard between Aldus Street and E. 163rd, while a “Vision of a North Shore Waterfront Greenway” will sit at the intersection of Bay Street and St. Mark’s Place on Staten Island. The “parking (e)scape” set up by Columbia urban planners on Broadway between 113th and 114th Streets sounds restful. “WonderWander,” found on Amsterdam Avenue between 83rd and 84th, is just plain intriguing. The full list can be found here for those looking for a nearby spot.

Park(ing) Day isn’t just a New York City celebration, or even an American one. The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, for example, is participating in Park(ing) Day projects in Buenos Aires and Rosario, Argentina; Bogotá, Columbia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Ahmedabad, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Mexico City. We’ll be bringing you the best park-ins from around the globe tomorrow, so stay tuned.

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In Chelsea, Adding Parks to the Street Could Free Up Room For Housing Too

Two 25th Street residents sit in a makeshift "micropark" in an Eighth Avenue island. Under a proposal to build 100 public spaces in on-street parking spots, one Chelsea group envisions a variety of more comfortable options around every corner. Photo: Park Chelsea

This Friday, New Yorkers will take part in Park(ing) Day, repurposing dozens of parking spaces around the city to show what you can do with valuable curbside real estate besides storing cars. Last year, participants set up everything from “alternate side mulching” to an entire dorm room, complete with walls and a television set, to help New Yorkers re-imagine the potential uses of their streets.

One New Yorker who needs no help re-imagining the curb is Arnold Bob, who prefers to go by “Ranger Bob, commissioner of Park Chelsea.” As reported by DNAinfo’s Matthew Katz, he’s proposing to turn one parking space on every block from 14th to 34th Streets, between Fifth Avenue and the Hudson River, into a what he calls a micropark. All told, it would add up to more than 100 small-scale public spaces where neighbors could meet up, take a breather, or plant a garden.

Bob started lobbying for the microparks after realizing that they offered a way to resolve one of the neighborhood’s most intractable planning disputes. “In Chelsea, there was a debate going on over affordable housing versus parks,” he explained. “I could get affordable housing done and parks at the same time.” All it would take is a willingness to rethink street space — leave the developable land for housing, and put the parks next to the curb.

Park Chelsea, Bob’s organization, has already set up their own permanent micropark — not in a parking spot but on the planted section of an Eighth Avenue pedestrian island. The Eighth and Ninth Avenue redesigns, or as Bob called them, “greenways,” could be just the beginning of bringing public pedestrian space to the streetbed in Chelsea.

His ideal microparks, he said, would have protective fencing and public seating like New York’s pop-up cafés, as well as features like community bulletin boards and green infrastructure to prevent stormwater overflows from dumping sewage into the Hudson. “If you put these on every block,” said Bob, “you’ll have a park within a one or two minute walk of everybody.”

Ranger Bob said he’s spoken with Community Board 4 about the proposal. They were supportive of the concept, though skeptical of its feasibility at full scale. With only a handful of pop-up cafés in place so far, they’re probably right that 100 is a distant goal. Still, Bob has a plan to win over opponents who don’t want to see fewer parking spaces: Pair each micropark with on-street space for car-share vehicles. Bob argued that the addition of each shared car would make up for the removal of multiple parking spaces for personal vehicles — a tradeoff he believes can create some physical and political room for his vision.

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Andres Power Helps Lead a Streets Renaissance One Parklet at a Time

City planners often get very little public recognition for the work they do, and can sometimes take the heat on a project if it doesn’t prove politically popular. In the case of San Francisco’s revolutionary Pavement to Parks program, the early resistance to reclaiming public space from cars to create convivial spaces for people has gradually subsided and parklets are now in heavy demand. None of it would have been possible without the hard work and determination of Andres Power, an urban designer for the San Francisco Planning Department.

As the manager of the P2P program, Power has spent tireless hours managing the city’s initial plaza and parklet projects and moving them through the vast city bureaucracy. He deals regularly with merchants, neighbors and community groups. He’s worn a hardhat on many a Saturday and is the guy who gets called at midnight if something goes wrong.  Power’s unwavering dedication, even in the face of fierce opposition, has made him one of the unsung heroes of San Francisco’s livable streets movement.

Along with some of his colleagues at the Planning Department, Power is working from within to change the dysfunctional and old-school culture of city government with an eye to then transform our streets. The Pavement to Parks program is now catching the attention of cities all over the U.S. Last week, San Francisco issued a new request for parklet proposals, which means they’ll be spreading to even more neighborhoods.

Power was born in San Francisco and grew up in the East Bay city of Albany. I sat down with him recently to find out more about his interest in urban planning, and his involvement in the Pavement to Parks program.

Bryan Goebel: What sparked your interest in city planning?

Andres Power: I’ve always loved cities. Being in a place that’s dynamic and changing and exciting has always been something that has intrigued me. I’ve tried to think back and to figure out what my motivators were and I think I just landed in the right place, to be honest. I had some great professors in undergrad at Brown University that really were forward and progressive thinking and inspired me. Then, after undergraduate, I went and worked in New York at the Department of Housing and Preservation doing economic development for the city and it was just an amazing place to be. It was so crazy and frantic, such a huge and complicated bureaucracy, but still, individual people could make amazing changes.

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NYC Restaurants in Search of Foot Traffic Can Apply to DOT

pop-up

The businesses next to the city's first pop-up cafe, on Pearl Street, say it's been a boon for foot traffic and profits. Photo: NYC DOT

A few months after launching the city’s first “pop-up café on Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, NYC DOT is putting out a call to other businesses who might be interested in reclaiming curbside spaces to make way for seasonal sidewalk extensions, tables, and seating. The department announced today that it’s seeking applications [PDF] to expand the pop-up café program to as many as 12 locations throughout the five boroughs next year.

Implicit in the program is the message that foot traffic and high-quality public space have greater value for street-level businesses than car storage. The two restaurants who sponsored the Pearl Street project, Fika Espresso Bar and Bombay’s, say business is up as much as 14 percent since the pop-up café was installed in August, according to DOT’s press release.

“Small businesses are the backbone of New York City’s economy and we need to do everything we can to help them through today’s difficult economic climate,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in a statement. “The City’s first Pop-up Café has been both an innovative public space and also an economic boon, and now enterprises across the city can buy in to this cost-effective, creative use of our streets.”

In San Francisco, where curbside reclamation projects are called “parklets,” the planning department released a similar request earlier this year after piloting the idea in two locations. The original inspiration for both programs, of course, is Park(ing) Day, which was recently observed for the fifth year in cities around the world.

The NYC public space expansions will be available to restaurants on streets where regular sidewalk café licenses are not permitted, and which have the support of the local community board to reclaim the curb. Restaurants have to apply by December 3 to be considered for next year’s program.

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Park(ing) Day 2010: The International Phenomenon

Park(ing) Day keeps getting bigger every year. Since starting in 2005, it has grown each year; last year 700 parks were set up in 140 cities on all six continents. This year, it might be even bigger.

And in the last year, the governments of San Francisco and New York City, at least, have made the idea behind the event part of city policy. “Parklets” and “pop-up cafés” have been installed in both of those cities right in the middle of a line of parallel parkers, giving the official stamp of approval to the idea that curbside space might not always be best used for storing automobiles.

So as you look through this slideshow of some Park(ing) Day highlights from around the country and the world, ask yourself: Which of these cities and towns will be the next to make Park(ing) Day permanent?

To find more pics, check out the parkingday tag on Flickr and on Twitter and be sure to submit your own.

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Park(ing) Day on the Upper West Side

A Park(ing) Space at Broadway and 113th recreated an entire dorm room. Photo: Noah Kazis.

"Pick a Room Kid" at Broadway and 113th recreated an entire dorm room. Photo: Noah Kazis

Here at 113th and Broadway, the curb is normally used to house an empty car. After being transformed by a team of Columbia planning students, however, it could provide a downright luxurious living space for normally-cramped students. The makeshift dorm room had two walls, a TV and cabinet space, a four-poster bed and, on the table, a copy of The High Cost of Free Parking.

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