PARK(ing) Day in Philadelphia, Roots in San Diego

I love PARK(ing) Day because it showcases how quick, cheap, and mobile solutions can vastly improve our quality of life. By reducing vehicle speeds and reclaiming streets as people spaces, these temporary parklets build community and prove that a tiny respites from city life is welcome.

Philadelphia’s PARK(ing) Day includes 52 businesses, designers, and organizations co-opting asphalt for tiny parks. You can see their google map here or download their printable guide: Park(ing) Day Philadelphia 2015_Map.

This strong showing is just another notch in Philly’s belt. There is a history of activating underutilized spaces with community initiatives as seen through the work of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, Grounded in Philly, the Mural Arts Program, and the Philadelphia Orchard Project. If you know of any more organizations, please comment below!

Here are a few parklets seen on my morning walk:

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Zipcar has a pumpkin-painting station and real turf

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Spiezle Architectural Group is raising money for United Way
Parklet and photo by @myphillypark and @PhilaParkandRec
Urban forest parklet and photo by @myphillypark and @PhilaParkandRec

Origin Story

According to the official PARK(ing) Day website, the project began in 2005:

Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.

But I think the roots of reclaiming infrastructural infill and asphalt goes back much further.

In the early 1970’s, a group of Chicano residents in Logan Heights, San Diego occupied land meant for parking and fought local government to build a public park and mural program. The recently built highway already splintered their community–one of the largest Mexican-American communities on the West Coast–and they were looking for ways to reclaim land for their neighborhood. Today Chicano People’s Park stands as a symbol of community strength and boasts some of the best Chicano murals outside of Mexico City. Read more here. 





One response to “PARK(ing) Day in Philadelphia, Roots in San Diego”

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