The New York Times describes the origins and progress of the conversion of parking space to park:
When the Parking Space Becomes a Park
The idea for parklets began to germinate in 2005, when members of a San Francisco arts collective called Rebar wanted to apply their artistic flair to small fragments of real estate. They were also interested in challenging “the boundaries of the short-term lease offered by a metered parking space,” says John Bela, one of Rebar’s co-founders. And they questioned what they saw as an automobile-centered approach to urban planning and design.
They started an experiment. In a stretch of downtown San Francisco that lacked greenery, they found an empty parking space, rolled out a patch of grass turf and set up a park bench and a potted tree. They put up a sign that read, “If you’d like to enjoy this little park, please put some coins in the meter.” Then they went across the street to watch.
The land next to a parking spot, Mr. Bela says, probably rented for a couple of hundred dollars a square foot per year, “but you could rent this little piece of land, 200 square feet, in downtown San Francisco for a couple dollars an hour.”
Mr. Bela and the others saw a pedestrian wander into the spot, put money in the meter and sit on a bench. Soon another sauntered in, and the two struck up a conversation. Just like that, the exercise was a success. Without much effort or expense, the parking spot had been transformed into a mini-park. …
About 51 such parklets, each occupying one to three street parking spaces, have sprung up across San Francisco since 2010, and at least a dozen more are being designed or built, or are in the process of receiving city permits, says Robin Abad Ocubillo, the parklet program manager for the city’s Pavement to Parks program.
In the last couple of years, at least 72 more parklets have materialized worldwide in places like Philadelphia, New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago, Mexico City and Auckland, New Zealand. …
Closer to home, Kathleen Corey (who with Brian Gould does those great videos like Seacycles) probably knows more San Francisco’s parklets than practically anyone:
For my MLA thesis, I visited 35 and captured them through photography and data analysis. The map includes a few more parklets built since my 2013 visit.
Full collection here.
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