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Park(ing) Day NYC 2008

Transportation Alternatives reports during this year's foray into PARKing Day there were over 50 parking spaces temporarily reclaimed throughout the city, nearly doubling last year's total. I'll say this: that's a lot of freaking sod!!

As usual for these things, the fare ran from the wildly creative to the calm & soothing. There was a meditation garden in Williamsburg, origami being folded at The Open Planning Project's spot, and a bevy of spots with an advocacy theme. But the strangest time-continuum alternative-universe event occurred at Peter Frishauf's spot on the Upper West Side where I filmed him following the live blogging on Streetsblog about PARKing Day! And finally, although my work comrades had an amazingly elaborate spot, if I had to vote this year's winner it would be the Lower East Side Girl's Club. Again. You guys rock.

This year my travels took me to four of the five boros: biked 43 miles, filmed 22 spots, spent 11 hours outdoors and had one bike crash - while I was walking my bike through Times Square. Go figure!

Related Linkage: ReBar, PARK(ing) Day NYC site, PARK(ing) Day NYC 2007 video, Park(ing) Day SF 2006 video. And a big hug to Ditto Ditto who let us use their bouncy-fun tune for this piece.

[intro music]

Nathan John: [00:23] Parking Day is an annual event that takes place and last year over 50 cities around the globe in which citizens and organisations take over parking spots for the day, and as you can see behind me, turn them into small, functional, vibrant public places. We’ve got 53 parking spots today, so more than double the number from last year here in New York, and we are actually in every Borough.

Speaker: [00:45] Everybody who comes around smiles. I’m shocked that at how much people become aware of the space, and the fact that the space doesn’t have to be a parking spot.

Speaker: [00:58] Welcome to Classy Broadway in Morningside Heights.

Speaker: [01:01] We thought, you know, bust out some fake champagne, get some brie and some crackers and basically just have a fancy party.

Speaker: [01:07] It’s about being happy, cos that’s really what open space is about, and it’s not about politics, it’s about having a place where people can have fun.

Speaker: [01:15] Well I think it’s a great idea, especially a lot of the intersections in the city that make it a little bit more green space. I think it’s nice, it makes the city a little bit more pleasant, a little bit more like European I should say.

Speaker: [01:27] Really?

Speaker: [01:27] Yeah.

Speaker: [01:28] Like Copenhagen.


Speaker: [01:59] Giving people an opportunity to relax. Bedford and North 7th, so here it’s most hectic. We’ve had a few people, a few people have meditated today. A guy came walking down the street, went like this, sat down, closed his eyes, ten minutes.

Speaker: [02:17] Our parking space is called Park and Write, sort of a pun in park and ride. So kids have stopped by and they’ve added their thoughts in terms of how they like parks, how they would like to re-imagine the street. Then we set up a free WiFi hotspot, if people want to come out here and use their computers to read StreetsBlogs, to view Streetsfilm.

Speaker: [02:38] The most puzzled reactions come from people who are at the top of the block think, oh god, there’s a parking space and they come tearing down here and then they see grass.

Speaker: [02:47] Welcome to the Green for Breathing Park in the South Bronx.

Adam Liebowitz: [02:50] The groups here make up the South Bronx River Waterfront Alliance which is the team of people that are campaigning to tear down the Sheridan. We’re trying to demonstrate that the ideal behind getting rid of space that’s usually just for one private car owner and turning into something for everybody.

Speaker: [03:05] It’s a demonstration which we want more green space, and with more green space it will help improve the air quality to walk, the water quality.

Speaker: [03:14] As a mother of two I find it very difficult where my kids can play safely. So the need for open space is very much needed in communities like mine.

Speaker: [03:25] Welcome to the Safer Skillman Corner in Woodside, Queens. We took this parking space to show people how much easier it would be to see oncoming traffic without a car here. We’re hoping to get this space permanently car-free because it’s blocking peoples’ views. Back in May a girl was hit because somebody was focusing too much on the cars coming down and not enough on the pedestrians crossing.


All: [03:51] Parking Day, yay. Love New York.

Nick Grossman: [03:54] Our parking space is called Under Reconstruction and the concept behind it is that it’s a DIY open source public space. We created a bunch of blocks here out of recycled cardboard. Anyone who comes over here can feel free to make any sort of shapes or building, you know, whatever. We’re also making origami. Doug here producing origami all day, he did some of the beautiful stuff that you can see hanging up along the walls. And we’ve also set up sidewalk chalk. People who come by have been picking up chalk and drawing on the sidewalk and drawing on the street.

Two Speakers: [04:27] Welcome to 88 Cones in Nolita.

Loreal Monroe: [04:29] We knew about Workshop Architecture, which is an architecture firm in our building and we contacted them and wanted to know if they’d be interested in building a structure for our space. And they come up with this great idea called 88 Cones where they re-purposed parking cones and turned them into kind of a parking arbour.

Speaker: [04:47] Just think it’s really refreshing to see something different in a parking space. You know you see all these cars that belong to an individual and it’s nice to be able to open it up to the community.

Speaker: [04:46] Not only is it rebellious to take over some parking lots, it’s also you can show how you can use the space within the city, like you can add some green space to a simple street and just make it so bright.

Speaker: [05:07] It’s just a classic kind of park, benches, real grass everyone putting their feet on. It’s kind of refreshing for people to just to sit and enjoy it. I’ve already had people say they’ve never actually looked at this intersection. It’s just like putting on a new pair of glasses.

Joan Millman: [05:21] People go by, you see that they smile, they wave and they want to know what we’re doing here, why we’re here and that’s a very good thing.

Speaker: [05:27] When you think about New York City and just like public spaces, like it’s something that we’re pretty passionate about, like just the need for more public spaces, so this is our opportunity to just sort of make a statement.


Transcription Sponsored by: Transcript Divas Transcription Services

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • http://www.crankmychain.com Dan Kaufman

    Everyday People, everyday rebels.

    PS Today is world carfree day!

  • Gil Kulick

    An awesome, inspiring display of imaginative diversity! Too bad you missed one of the best -- B'nai Jeshurun's "Oasis in the Asphalt Desert" on the Upper West Side. Maybe next year.

  • http://www.criticalmass.at/382 red velo

    great stuff! we did something similar in vienna last sunday.
    take a look here:

  • jessica

    awesome video!

  • Ian Dutton

    Great work, Clarence - and this excellent Streetfilm helped us get NYC DOT to consider what became the "pop-up cafe" program - now we have several of these cafe-sponsored summer-long community oases scattered around NYC!