Did you know that today is Park(ing) Day? Have you ever heard of Park(ing) Day? If not, don’t be fooled by the name. Park(ing) Day is not a national holiday dedicated to making out as it was described in the 1950s, nor is it a special day dedicated to NIMBYs who only care about parking (that’s Tuesdays in Fishtown, btw). No, Park(ing) Day is an opportunity for us to rethink parking spaces around town, as different groups repurpose sections of Philadelphia’s streets 170 sqft at a time. We first covered Park(ing) Day back in 2011, and with some wonderful weather today, we figured we’d give it another dose of coverage. This year, for the 10th anniversary of Park(ing) Day in Philadelphia, there were over 60 parkets scattered around town, with most bunched up in the heart of Center City.
We started in West Philly, where we visited three different parklets. The first, from Septa, was designed to look like a Septa bus and included a bunch of Septa swag that we imagine the Penn students snatched up quickly. Further west, Penn Praxis set up a parklet dedicated to National Parks at which people were able to meet with park rangers and map out parks they’ve visited or hope to visit in the future. Repair the World, meanwhile, set up a tent and some plants on 40th Street to help spread their message of community service rooted in Jewish values.
Then we moved along to Center City, where it seemed like there was a parklet on every other block. A parklet near 19th & Sansom included a carousel horse and some giant sized pinwheels. Across from the 19th & Chesnut Target was a parklet from Salt Design Studio, Recyclebank, the Post-Landfill Action Network, and City CoHo Philly’s Nexus, showing off the sustainable efforts from each company/organization. Langan Engineering and Milkcrate teamed up for a parklet near 17th & Chestnut, encouraging people to download an app to track their social and environmental impact. Morris Animal Refuge had a parklet on 17th Street, wondering why a parking space can’t be used as an adoption location. Yes, there were puppies. One of our favorite parklets was right near Rittenhouse Square, a “resting spot” from Lammey + Giorgio that provided some boxes for sitting and sidewalk chalk. Also near the Square was a parklet from Clean Air Council, using plants to encourage people to reduce their environmental impact.
Sadly, we ran out of time and didn’t make it to the Franklin Fountain parklet or the Saint Benjamin’s Brewing parklet because who doesn’t like ice cream or beer with their creative use of public space? Maybe next year. Speaking of next year, maybe we’ll think to tell you about Park(ing) Day ahead of time, so you can see the parklets in person and not just online. The photos are nice, but the event is meant to be experienced in person and it loses a little something in translation.