The concept of parklets is nothing new, but an international
initiative is bringing the idea to the public. September 21 is the eighth
annual celebration of PARK(ing) Day, which encourages artists, designers, and
regular citizens to transform metered parking spaces into temporary public
The movement started in 2005, when a San Francisco art and design
studio decided to rent a streetside parking space for the maximum two hours
allowed on the meter and convert it into an inviting oasis for the public.
Located in a park-poor section of town, the simple minipark consisted of sod, a
potted tree, a park bench, and a chain fence that cordoned off the space from the
street. Since then, the initiative has spawned thousands of imitators who have
“reprogrammed” single parking spaces into free health clinics, temporary urban
farms, free bicycle repair clinics, musical performance stages, and just
relaxing “people spots,” where the public can find an unexpected respite in the
middle of the day.
According to the PARK(ing) Day website (www.parkingday.org),
“The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban
open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and
allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat…at least until the
meter runs out!” The 2011 event generated 975 pop-up parks in 162 cities in 35
countries on six continents, and 2012 is forecast to be the biggest year yet.
Financial support from various groups including the Trust for Public Land have
made it easier than ever to participate and bring small spots of serenity to your