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Five Ways Cities Are Reimagining The Urban Park

Five Ways Cities Are Reimagining The Urban Park
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"Parklets" are slowly taking over parking spaces across the country. PSFK takes a look at our top five picks.

Karen Baker
  • 7 august 2012

Image via sfist

The parklet movement is taking over the country, slowly moving from its birthplace in San Francisco eastwards. A “parklet” refers to a plot of urban land, usually a parking space, that the city government takes over and turns into a small park. Usually situated in front of businesses (and sponsored by them – parklets cost about $20,000 to develop), they offer an urban retreat for pedestrians to sit, chat, eat and enjoy life outside.

The concept of parklets took root back in 2005 when design agency Rebar transformed a single San Franciscan parking space into a temporary public park. The project turned into an annual PARKing Day dedicated to turning parking spaces into public spaces across the country. San Francisco’s Urban Planning department adopted the movement and to date has created almost 30 permanent parklets across the city. Their success has inspired replica programs across the United States and over the border in Canada. Here we take a look at the some of the most interesting parklets out there, from Philadelphia to Vancouver.

San Francisco

Image via Mark Hogan on Flickr 

Perhaps the most San Franciscan of the city’s parklets, “Deepistan National Parklet” is dinosaur-themed, featuring a triceratops shrub sculpture deep in the Mission District.

San Francisco Pavement to Parks Program

Long Beach, CA

Image via Studio One Eleven

A few hours drive from San Francisco will take you to Long Beach, home to the first parklet in Southern California. Designed by Studio One Eleven, this parklet sits outside of Mexican restaurant Lola’s in the city’s Retro Row.

City of Long Beach Pilot Program

Chicago, IL

Image via Chicago Tribune

Called “People Spots” in Chicago, the Windy City opened its first ever parklet last week at 5228 N. Clark Street in Andersonville. Creative community members helped fund the project through a Kickstarter campaign. Given the climate in chilly Chicago, the spot will stay open through November.

City of Chicago’s “Make Way for People” Initiative

Vancouver, British Col

Image via Urban Places and Spaces

Parklets aren’t limited to the States, much as San Francisco takes pride in leading the way. Vancouver recently opened its second parklet called “Urban Pasture,” adding to the beauty of its first (shown above) called Parallel Park.

Viva Vancouver Program

Philadelphia, PA

Image via Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities

On the East Coast you’ll find a parklet waiting for you in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia’s first parklet celebrates its first birthday this week, sitting outside Greenline Cafe on 43rd Street and Baltimore Ave.

The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities’ Parklet Pilot Program

The cities of Boston and Houston are planning to join the ranks of parklets this year, and so expect to find many more in a city near you.

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