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Paint a Parking Lot, Put Up a Paradise

In the Brooklyn DUMBO neighborhood the NYC Department of Transportation has launched the first of over thirty projects that will transform city streets over to public space uses.

What once was a triangle on Pearl Street for about two dozen car parking spots has become an oasis of green complete with chairs, tables, umbrellas and art. DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan called the space, "a new living room for the neighborhood." Although the subway can be a little clanky in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, we think that comment couldn't be more perfect.

The rapidity of the implementation of this project took even us by surprise, but with Mayor Bloomberg's push to put more green and open spaces within proximity of our abodes it's nice to see swift progress. So here are the dramatic befores, afters, and overheads that we are surely will cajole other neighborhoods to beg for living rooms in their communities. Of course, StreetFilms strongly encourages this behavior.


Speaker: [00:00] It’s another place here and really lovely.


Speaker: [00:03] I think it’s really cute over there, it’s charming.


Speaker: [00:06] This is actually the first time I’ve ever seen something like this, and even just to be a part of it, I like it and I’m pretty sure a lot of people will probably like it in their neighbourhood.


Speaker: [00:15] It’s great for us, it’s great for our neighbourhood, great for everybody.


Janette Sadik-Khan: [00:18] I want to welcome you to New York City’s newest public space. A short time ago this was a barren parking lot filled with cars and debris, and now you can see that it’s literally a living room for the neighbourhood. And this living room took weeks, not years, to put together. And I think it lays the ground work for an even more impressive foundation that we will create in the years to come.


[music]

Tucker Reed: [00:44] We originally brought down a group of grad students from their graduate planning school to help us look at underutilised spaces in the neighbourhood. This space immediately screamed out to them and had to us for quite a while. They developed some plans for a plaza, as what you can see here. As soon as people in the neighbourhood heard about like this idea, local architecture firms stopped by and like oh I have an idea about this or I have an idea about that, really apprising us on creation of an active urban space like this. So we were able to just very quickly with a minimal amount of resources, investment from my Board of Directors, matched by investment by the Department of Transportation, a great public/private partnership to be able to create this space that you see here.


Janette Sadik-Khan: [01:19] Well it’s a real success story of what you can do when you partner and collaborate with communities. Over the course of basically two months we’ve transformed it into the pedestrian plaza that you see here today, working with local artists who have installed spectacular art, working with the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, they gave us the planters and the trees that you see behind us here. And working with local businesses and artists who have donated the umbrellas and the tables and chairs and are going to make sure that they’re maintained. And this really is just an example of what you can do with a little imagination and energy.


Speaker: [01:51] I’m just happy to be here, happy to be invited here. What we actually do another farmers market on Saturday by Grand Army Plaza so this will turn into our seventh day, you know, a seven day week for us, so we’re definitely happy to be here.


Pam Shelala: [02:03] They worked really hard doing the whole thing and I really appreciate it and I hope everyone else does in the neighbourhood.


Speaker: [02:10] It’s great. I mean the city needs this. It’s just like a, more of a community space, it just brings people around to each other. It’s just nice. Nice to have.


Janette Sadik-Khan: [02:18] Yeah, we’ve got a proposal for 31 plazas, public plazas, that we’re going to be doing over the next period of time under the Mayor’s plan, and so this is very much a part of that and we’re always looking for opportunities to transform spaces to green oases. And, yeah, we’ll be looking to do more of that in the weeks, months and years to come.

[music]

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