New York has become famous for carving out pedestrian spaces from busy streets across the city, taming traffic and creating much needed plaza space. The city’s newest innovation replaces five parallel parking spaces in the Financial District with a wooden deck to accommodate al fresco dining.
The pedestrian intervention on Pearl Street was the idea of a couple restaurants on the street who successfully petitioned the Department of Transportation to give the idea a go. Located in a congested part of Manhattan with sidewalks otherwise unable to handle sidewalk dining, the Pearl Street project lays the groundwork for a lively sidewalk—although the tables were empty on a late afternoon visit. (But hey, David Byrne likes them.)
The pop-up cafe is simple, consisting of an 86-foot by 6-foot raised wooden platform matching sidewalk level ringed by metal planters that help to differentiate and separate the space from the street. Bright red tables and chairs add some fun. The two local restaurants paid for the furniture and $15,000 deck that can seat 50 people.
These pedestrian decks are common in other cities like San Francisco who recently implemented a Pavement to Parks program. There, the newly reclaimed spaces called “parklets” handle a variety of uses from sidewalk dining to bike parking. (Check out the great Streetfilms video below.) San Francisco-based architects RG-Architecture (the same architect as the SF project) donated design services for the New York project.
Parklet derive inspiration from PARK(ing) Day pop-up parks which convert single parking spots into miniature parks for one day each year across the world. This year’s PARK(ing) Day is September 17. The grass-roots program has been around for years, but has yet to be tried in Louisville (hint, hint to someone looking for a fun activity).
This example is only temporary trial and will be left in place through November. If successful, the city may expand the concept across the city. The temporary nature of the decks allows them to be removed in cold months and brought back in the Spring when sidewalk dining becomes viable. There was, of course, outcry from some who lamented the loss of five parking spots.
These sidewalk extensions seem like a really elegant idea as they can be removed in the winter when no one is dining outside anyway. Other cities are taking note of San Francisco and New York, too. Portland, OR is considering a few parklets of their own. Could Louisville be next? Any places around town that might benefit from such an installation?
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