PARK(ing) Day Brings 50 “Parks” to Seattle

Community groups and businesses create pop-up parks for a day

 Today people in Seattle and in cities around the world will temporarily convert on-street parking spaces into public spaces for the annual PARK(ing) Day event. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has permitted 50 parks for this year’s event, and each offers a unique way for people to interact with local community groups and businesses.

The pop-up parks include creative furnishings, landscaping, games, performance spaces, art installations, and much more. Seattle’s 50 parks—the largest participation to date—will be in place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Begun in 2005, PARK(ing) Day aims to raise awareness about the importance of a sustainable, livable and healthy city.

“PARK(ing) Day showcases the creativity and energy of Seattle’s residents and businesses,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “A vibrant and livable Seattle is one that includes great open spaces, and PARK(ing) Day is an easy way for people to experiment with new types of public space.”

Parks will be located throughout the city, from Lake City to Rainier Beach and from Ballard to West Seattle. There will also be concentrations of parks in South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, downtown Seattle and Pioneer Square. A map of all PARK(ing) Day installations in Seattle, including a short description of each park, is available at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/seattleparkingday.htm.

SDOT is hosting two parks this year: a “Be Super Safe and Fun” park (S. King Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues in the International District) will highlight pedestrian safety and the Public Space Management Program, and a “Madison BRT Corridor Study” park (Madison Street at Boren Ave on First Hill) will introduce people to the bus rapid transit project and encourage participation in an upcoming public outreach event.

PARK(ing) Day has grown from a single two-hour park in San Francisco in 2005 to more than 1,000 parks in nearly 40 countries last year. Held the third Friday of every September, PARK(ing) Day gives people the opportunity to explore creative uses of the right-of-way for a few hours. The focus of the event is on building community and supporting positive activation of Seattle’s public spaces.

A direct outgrowth of PARK(ing) Day is Seattle’s Pilot Parklet Program. Much like the pop-up parks of PARK(ing) Day, parklets convert a small number of on-street parking spaces into public open space and help to activate our streets, promote economic vitality and create more vibrant neighborhoods. Parklets are privately funded and maintained but open for everyone to enjoy.

Seattle’s pilot program launched in 2013 and will continue throughout this year to test how well parklets work in Seattle. Two days after PARK(ing) Day, the newest parklet will open at Molly Moons Homemade Ice Cream in Wallingford (1622 N 45th St); construction is underway now. The Molly Moons parklet joins the Montana Bar parklet on Capitol Hill (1506 E Olive Way) and the Oasis Tea Zone parklet in the Chinatown/International District (519 6th Ave S), both of which opened in the last year. To learn more about these new public spaces, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/parklets.htm.

PARK(ing) Day 2014 falls on the final day of the Seattle Design Festival, presented by Design in Public and AIA Seattle. As part of the festival, the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects raised funding to provide all “no parking” signs and safety cones for this year’s PARK(ing) Day participants. The festival is also hosting awards for PARK(ing) Day parks, including a “best of” category for businesses and community groups. Awards will be announced on social media and at the closing party; more information is available at http://designinpublic.org/program/seattle-design-festival/.