Most Revolutionary Idea in Urban Design


A pair of San Francisco designers brought the idea to the United States from Europe in late 2005 for an art project, and since then parklets have evolved from a stunt into a serious conversation. With the first official PARK(ing) Day the following September, 34 Bay Area parklets helped set the stage for an urban-design revolution that continues to challenge the way many people, including business owners and city planners, think about streets, sidewalks, and public spaces. If anything, the movement is just getting going: Early adopters like San Francisco, New York City, and Philadelphia have inspired cities like Long Beach and Oakland (which has approved seven to be installed this summer and fall in a pilot program) to take the idea and run with it. The gist? Convert parking spots to tiny public parks with seating, greenery, and bike racks, enhancing pedestrians' experience of urban streetscapes while beautifying barren blocks and encouraging everyone to stop and smell the roses. The Parklets movement isn't anti-car, but it does provide a wedge into a bigger conversation about designing urban spaces on a human scale.

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