Mid City West Community Council organized four pop-up parks in the neighborhood in honor of Park(ing) Day on Friday, Sept 18th. Park(ing) Day is an international event that encourages groups of artists, designers, citizens, to activate a parking spot with something other than temporary storage for personal vehicles.
Park(ing) Day started in 2005 in San Francisco by an urban design firm known as rebar. Since then it has grown to a worldwide event, with pop-up parks individually organized in over 400 locations. In Mid City West, the parks were on Wilshire, Fairfax, Melrose and La Brea. The parks in Mid City West each had their own theme and guests were encouraged to visit more than one park in order to explore the neighborhood.
On Wilshire, the park was family oriented with toys and games for kids of all ages. “I was surprised to see how many families live in these apartments,” said MCW Board Member Josh Paget who staffed the Wilshire location all day. “Typically we assume the apartments are young urbanites, bachelors, singles, but there’s a lot of families. And sadly not a lot of parks around for those families… probably why we don’t see them out and about as much.”
The Fairfax location hosted live performance art, with musicians, comedians, storytellers, and puppeteers joining the fun and entertaining audiences. “Los Angeles’s reputation is for entertainment, musicians, actors, comedians all come here for that,” said one performer. “Yet there’s few venues for all the people who come here. So it was great to perform even just for a small park.”
The Melrose BID created an extra-long park on Melrose Avenue. The theme was an outdoor room with couches and table and chairs. Urbanists often refer to the concept of “the public realm as an outdoor room” the furniture in the pop-up park brought that idea home. The Melrose BID also created a time-lapse video of the event. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YszPNhjYJYM
The fourth location was on La Brea. The park had ping pong and foosball and a graffiti artist on hand creating a mural on the side of the building. Passersby stopped in for a game, recreation and to take in art in progress. The La Brea park caught the attention of ABC7 news: http://abc7.com/society/la-brea-parking-spaces-turned-into-temporary-parks/991701/
The event is only one day, from 9 til 4pm but the effect may last longer. “It’s the beginning of outreach for Mid City West Community Council” said Paget who helped organize the event. “Through this event we can gather input on needed amenities in the community and perhaps build a permanent parklet somewhere in Mid City West or advocate for new amenities in existing parks.”
The ambitious four park network was enthusiastically supported by the nearby businesses. In fact many of the park elements were sponsored by the businesses themselves.
Park(ing) Day 2016 will be Friday September 16th. Start planning your pop-up park!