LA Joins Worldwide Event: PARK(ing) Day – No Cars Allowed

shipping pallets form the structure for park in parking space

Shipping pallets form the structure of a park by Pfeiffer Partners architects. Colleagues lunch in their plant-filled space in Downtown LA near the 7th Street/Metro Center Red/Purple Line Metro station.

PARK(ing) Day LA is coming Friday, September 20, 2013.

Discover LA by Metro:

Parking Spaces Turn into Parks for a Day

group arranges tires to form seating on turf surface in parking space

In Downtown LA, architects from NBBJ create a table to display the architectural model of their park. Called “Where the Rubber Meets the Turf,” their whimsical park across from Pershing Square recycles scrap tires as furniture and play equipment.

Part art installation, part public greening advocacy, part garden design, and wholly unique, we found PARK(ing) Day to be intriguing and funky.

As advocates for getting out of your car, onto Metro, and out in the streets, we couldn’t resist scoping out the Metro-accessible PARK(ing) Day locations around greater LA.

We’d not heard of PARK(ing) Day until alerted by email just a few days before the event. We’re already planning to start earlier next year because we missed some installations.

So, you’re probably wondering: what is PARK(ing) Day?

Creative Reuse store co-owner Lisa Hernandez chats with fellow Long Beach merchant Sandra Pimentel of Downtown Darling Boutique and Salon. Creative Reuse’s park, off the Blue Line in the Long Beach East Village Arts District, fronts the store which offers recycled materials of all types.

As the official website describes it, “PARK(ing) Day is an annual, worldwide event that invites citizens everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good.”

Started in San Francisco in 2005, PARK(ing) Day is held on the third Friday in September, and, in 2011, that was September 16th. In 2010, there were 850 PARK(ing) Day sites in 183 cities in 30 countries spanning six continents. There were more than two dozen sites participating in PARK(ing) Day Los Angeles this year.

Lawn chairs provide a relaxing space on real lawn in the park created on Spring Street by members of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council.

Since she is a keen gardener and we are very interested in the greening of public spaces, we hopped on the Metro and saw four PARK(ing) Day sites in Downtown Los Angeles (near Red/Purple Line stations) and two in Long Beach (near Blue Line stations). Unfortunately, we did not get to all the sites in just these two areas before they were removed (most were deconstructed by 2 p.m.). In addition, there were many non-Metro Rail accessible sites, including some bus accessible, that we didn’t consider visiting.

This event might not seem worth the journey to everyone, since the projects are scattered and by nature small (one or two parking spaces). Individually, some PARK(ing) Day parks were not very impressive – we do acknowledge all the effort it takes to do even a simple space – while others were very creative in their use of materials and design. This is definitely a case where the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

Plastic bags covering a PVC pipe structure form a sun shelter. This Downtown LA park on 7th Street is the work of the SWA Group of landscape architects to show the use of recyclables.

PARK(ing) Day spaces are meant to be used by those in the local neighborhoods and business districts, to be fun, and to give people a place to pause during the hectic pace of the work week. All the spaces we saw were fun, funky, and friendly.

Desiree Kannel of community resource group Catalyst greets passersby  in Long Beach.

Although some of the parks were very simple and others whimsical, seeing the creativity put forth to fashion an urban oasis for just four to six hours really makes one think how permanent pocket parks could improve urban living (even suburban living). A fabulous outcome of PARK(ing) Day is that in some areas, these temporary installations have eventually led to permanent pocket parks.

The idea of pop-up parks across our urban area is wonderful. We love the idea behind PARK(ing) Day, and we look forward to viewing these creative installations next year.

PARK(ing) Day logo of upsidedown car with plants growing from it creating a park

Join us for PARK(ing) Day next year and turn your ideas of urban life upside down!

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2 Responses to LA Joins Worldwide Event: PARK(ing) Day – No Cars Allowed

  1. Lucy Miller says:

    What a fantastic idea – I hope park(ing) day will spread to urban spaces across the continent!

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