Park(ing) Day 2011

Today was Park(ing) Day, when unsuspecting parking spaces throughout the city were transformed into temporary parks. This year, more than 30 mini-parks popped up thanks to organizations like the Community Design Collaborative, government agencies like the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, and design firms like Interface Studio.

As I walked around the city checking out the parklets, I watched Philadelphians ignore, marvel at, and enjoy the installations.

The Olin Studio created a feral car – a clunker Cadillac covered in moss with the seats still intact. The car’s hood propped against a lamppost proclaimed “This Is A Park.” With that invitation, lots of people took the cue to rest for a moment in the car’s seats which were arranged to face each other. Down Chestnut Street, Groundswell Design Group created a minipark out of elements you’d find in a vacant lot in Philly: tires, wildflowers and herbs, wood pallets, cones.

For the agencies and advocacy groups, Park(ing) Day was also an opportunity to talk about their work. At the Center City District installed a demonstration streetscape planter on Market Street where they will be working with the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) to create a protected bike lane. The lane would separate bike and car traffic, and will likely be studied in the coming months.

The Bicycle Coalition installed two sets of bike corrals with the help of MOTU including one that is car-shaped on Sydenham at Walnut. And, lucky us, these will both stay installed for the next 6-7 weeks.

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