Parks and Parklets Tour: A Three-Part Ddyssey

BY FABIANA MEACHAM
July 16, 2010

Last week's Parks and Parklets tour led a group of enthusiastic urbanists to three of the city's parklets — miniature parks built on roadway and parking spaces reclaimed for the pedestrian realm.

parklets1

Divisadero: We kicked off our tour at the Divisadero Street parklet in front of Mojo Bicycle Café. Café patrons sipped coffee and admired their gleaming two-wheelers as Great Streets Project's Liza Pratt filled us in on the parklet's history: installed in March of this year, this newborn parklet has been a boon to business, inspiring Mojo to apply for a license to serve liquor outdoors.

parklets2

En route to the Castro Parklet, SPUR members and staff traded stories, shared laughs and tried not to notice the obscenities scrawled on the battered wood veneer of the 24 bus, (among the most offensive: "I ♥ STEELY DAN").

parklets3

Castro: Seth Boor of Boor Bridges Architecture joined us in the Castro, where he told us about the collaborative design process. Boor led the project, but worked with landscape architect Flora Grubb and local sculptor Paul Cesewski on the garden design and rolling gate, respectively. The custom-built gate, created from salvaged steel obtained at no cost, rolls open to allow streetcars to pass through, but remains closed most of the time, creating a lovely barrier against traffic for parklet users. Due to a limited budget (around $50,000), parklet construction can't interfere with any below-street infrastructure, so instead of hooking up to sewer and water lines, passive, ground-level drainage channels were added to the concrete planters.

parklets4

Mission: A long walk to 22nd and Bartlett Street ended with at the Rebar-designed Walket, which Rebar describes as "a modular, flexible sidewalk extension system designed to create new public spaces for people by extending the pedestrian realm into the parking lane." A diverse crowd in various states of repose was found on, under, and next to the structure.

Thirsting for more parklet adventures, one intrepid tour-goer led a solo expedition to the Guerrero Street parklet after the tour ended. Most of us, however, returned to our respective workplaces, enlightened by an afternoon of small, economical and successful public spaces.

[Photo Credit: All photos by Colleen McHugh]