On Thursday, Aug. 4th at 1pm, University City District and the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) will officially unveil Philadelphia’s First Parklet, on 43rd St. just above Baltimore Ave. Parklets, fairly common in Europe and growing in popularity in San Francisco and New York, are small public spaces adjacent to the sidewalk that typically repurpose parking spaces for pedestrian use.
Parklet from San Francisco. Image from Grub Street.
Designed by DIGSAU and constructed by Bill Curran Sculpture Design Fabrication, Philadelphia’s Parklet is right next to Green Line Cafe, a popular neighborhood coffee shop. While the Parklet was not finished when we snapped these photos yesterday, it doesn’t take much imagination to think of what it will look like when complete.
Green Line Cafe in the background
Looking north up 43rd St.
Looking south down 43rd St. Clark Park in the background.
Despite looking like an extension of Green Line Cafe’s outdoor seating, the Parklet is most definitely a space for everyone and not an exclusive venue for the latte sipping set. One of the ideas behind Parklets is to create public space for anyone to enjoy, particularly in areas where this might be lacking. Which makes it sort of curious that the very first Parklet in Philadelphia would be situated directly across the street from Clark Park, one of the best public spaces in the city. While the marketing angle of locating the first Parklet at a corner that gets good foot traffic will likely generate some decent buzz, we’re not sure that people are going to understand its desired purpose or function because of its location.
Aside from this small complaint, we’re jazzed about the Parklet and hope to see many more pop up in the coming years. And for such a desirable new public amenity, we’re sure that permitting will be simple and inexpensive. On the other hand…