Converting pavement for people

This year’s PARK(ing) Day on September 18 prompted New York Times’ By Design blogger Allison Arieff to write a piece on “Pavement to Parks,” which further prompted me to write this piece in the context of Open space and Milwaukee Avenue.

In writing about San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks program, which was apparently spurred on by New York City’s Plaza Program, Arieff writes:

(The) program creates spaces for people by reclaiming excess roadway, through the use of simple and low-cost design interventions.  What’s innovative about these parks isn’t so much the design as the implementation.  As Andres Power, urban designer at the San Francisco Planning Department explains, because there is no structure in place to do something like this “it fundamentally changes the old impasse of years of planning and just lets the space evolve over time.”

That last part about letting the space evolve over time got me thinking about the idea of permanently closing down Milwaukee Avenue between east- and westbound Logan Boulevard and Woodard Street between Milwaukee Avenue and Kimball Avenue (see Open space and Milwaukee Avenue [Part 1]).  The closing of the small sections of each street is only conceptual at this point, though both were tested during this year’s Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival when they were closed for music performances.

NYC Plaza ProgramWhat if over the course of next summer, those two sections of street were closed periodically and experiments allowed to take place to see what might take shape?  (For the purpose of pondering what if?, assume that the necessary adjustments for car traffic take place.)

Maybe some performances are scheduled.  Maybe some movable chairs and picnic tables are set up.  On Woodard Street maybe some café tables are set up and served by the Crown Tap Room and nearby restaurants.   Maybe some public art — interactive even — is installed.  Maybe some planters are put out to be tended by local gardeners.

SF Pavement to ParksMy thinking is that by experimenting over time, some discernable patterns or desires for use of the spaces may evolve and form a vision for the possible conversion of the pavement for the people, one that is more than conceptual.

What other experiments could we conduct with these spaces?

Fall diversions in Logan Square:

Chicago ARTilleryLogan Square ARTicipation Tour kicks off Chicago Artists Month with art and music:

Empowerment Art:  Interactive and Collective Works by Chicago ARTillery Artists on Thursday, October 1, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. at New Wave Coffee, 2557 N. Milwaukee Ave.; exhibition continues through November 2; and…

Chicago ARTillery Group Show:  Collective, Interactive & Live Participatory Art and Music on Friday, October 2, from 6:00 to 10 p.m. at Cole’s, 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave.; exhibition continues through November 15.


2 Responses to Converting pavement for people

  1. SCRABBLOR says:

    You should look into the Active Transportation Alliance’s Open Streets program. This summer was the second year and had the boulevard system from Logan Square through Little Village closed to automobile traffic for two Sunday afternoons. I participated at the first (late July) in the North Lawndale community and it seemed a strong success.

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