On Friday, September 18th, Bruen street in the East Ward saw the transformation of an otherwise empty parking space into a relaxing park, a little green haven away from the busy city, complete with deck chairs and refreshing lemonade!
The event was the creation of Dave Robinson and Madeline Ruiz, principals of the Newark-based Studio for Urban Architecture + Design (SUAD). The big idea, Robinson explained, is to challenge how we think about public space in the city, and – just for a day – to reimagine an often underutilized space, the parking lot, for the better.
A young Newarker enjoys the transformed parking space
The initiative came as part of Park(ing) Day, a global phenomenon that encourages urban citizens to reclaim a little bit of the public realm for people, not cars! The event has its origins with the San Francisco design firm Rebar, who in 2005 (so the story goes) one day decided to feed a parking meter, but instead of parking a car – set down some chairs and some planters, and created a mini park! They called it a parklet, and since then the concept has grown, with several cities now installing permanent parklets as part of their open space provisions.
Park(ing) Day comes to Newark!
What is a parklet? Click on the image to download our handy poster
On a brilliant sunny day in Newark, this particular parklet was a resounding success. Children relaxed on the miniature lawn, curious passers by stopped to see what was going on, and – just as I was leaving – a thirsty family of four stopped by for an after-school lemonade!
A perfect day for a refreshing lemonade (as this reporter can testify!)
This isn’t the first parklet to appear in Newark this year either: as part of the ongoing efforts of Better Block Newark, the City created several demonstration parklets that made appearances across the city throughout the summer, beginning on Bergen Street in the South Ward in June.
These efforts are just the beginning, as the City has already begun to explore how and where to install permanent parklets of its own throughout the city. Such attempts to reimagine the urban realm – as one built for people, not cars – strike a particular chord at the moment, and can be seen as a natural complement to other City of Newark events, such as the Occupy the Block initiative by Mayor Ras J. Baraka. Newakers have spoken: it’s time to take back our streets!
Newarkers claim back the streets through Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s successful ‘Occupy the Block’ initiative
Did you host or spot another parklet that we missed? Interested in hosting a parklet for your community or business? Or even if you’d simply like to know more about parklets, we’d love to hear from you! Please either leave a comment here or drop Newark OPZS an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.