PARK(ing) Day 2019
Downtown businesses show how parking spaces can be used for more than just cars.
Across the world Friday parking spaces were transformed from asphalt reserved for motor vehicles to rentable public space.
PARK(ing) Day, as the international event is known, was observed in Milwaukee by architecture firms RINKA and Engberg Anderson Architects, City.Net Cafe, The Hive co-working space and Historic Milwaukee. Business improvement district Milwaukee Downtown, which held its own installation on W. Wisconsin Ave. in front of its new home at The Avenue, again curated the installations.
Each of the groups transformed at least one parking space, often with substantial greenery, into a place for people for much of the day Friday.
Live music accompanied each installation over the noon lunch hour, including City.Net Cafe owner Sam Belton‘s jazz group in which he plays the drums.
“I like to think of Park(ing) Day installations as the gateway drug for urban transformation,” said John Bela in 2017. Bela and his friends at Rebar created the event in San Francisco in 2005.
“We looked at the parking spaces and thought, ‘Oh wow, this is subsidized real estate,’” Bela told CityLab. The idea took off and is now observed across the globe, outliving the organization that started it.
The notion of parking spaces as useful space for something other than storing vehicles has been gaining acceptance with a number of parklets being installed across the city, an outgrowth of the original idea. The city has even streamlined parklet creation and installation with a straightforward permit.
The Bay View Neighborhood Association plans to celebrate the event next Saturday.
Photos by Gabriel Yeager of Milwaukee Downtown
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