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Highway Removal, Placemaking & Public Space


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Presentation for the Boston Cyclists Union community meeting on the removal of the Casey Overpass in Jamaica Plain

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Highway Removal, Placemaking & Public Space

  1. 1. Place-Making &Public Space Aaron Naparstek Harvard University Loeb Fellow Streetsblog Founder Monday, January 9, 2012 Boston Cyclists Union Forum
  2. 2. The 20th century was the century of the automobile.
  3. 3. We went to great lengths to transform our cities to accommodate the automobile. Before 1922 After1922 Manhattan’s Park Avenue at 50th Street looking north
  4. 4. 1913 2005"Erosion of cities by automobiles entails so familiar a series of eventsthat they hardly need describing. The erosion proceeds as a kind ofnibbling -- Jane Jacobs
  5. 5. Our transportation policies have been designed to move as many cars as possible.
  6. 6. City streets weren’t always the sole domain of automobiles.
  7. 7. Traffic undermined neighborhood life.
  8. 8. Today we are left with cities where motor vehicles largely dominate public space.
  9. 9. The Casey Overpass -- quite literally – places the automobile above other aspects of neighborhood life.
  10. 10. Bostonians might be skeptical about the promise of public space. Boston City Hall Plaza
  11. 11. Today we know a lot more about how to create, evaluate and maintain great streets and public spaces. Copenhagen, Denmark
  12. 12. Boston also has some of America’s loveliest urban public spaces. Post Office Square
  13. 13. Successful public spaces attract people. The city’s greatest attraction is people. Portland, Oregon’s Pioneer Square
  14. 14. What attracts people to public space?Sometimes simple things: Like a place to sit. Portland, Oregon’s Pioneer Square
  15. 15. What attracts people to public space?Sometimes simple things: Like a place to sit. Times Square, NYC. The new TKTS stairway.
  16. 16. What attracts people to public space? People! Before AfterBroadway at Times Square. Now car-free.
  17. 17. Seating in public space can be movable and temporary. In fact, people like that a lot. Broadway at Times Square. Now car-free.
  18. 18. Management and programming of public space is very important. New York City’s Bryant Park Nobody steals the chairs!
  19. 19. The City is the original interactive media. New York City’s Herald Square
  20. 20. Great public spaces facilitate exchange along the edges of the space. Piazza del Campo, Siena, Italy.
  21. 21. Good public spaces are built with human senses, speeds and scale in mind. Beyond about 100 meters we can’t easily see or talk to each other. A space no longer feels human-scale.
  22. 22. The Casey Overpass is not a human-scale piece of infrastructure.
  23. 23. Portland, Oregon’s Harbor Drive. Before AfterPortland was the first major US city to tear down an urban freeway. 1974.
  24. 24. San Francisco’s Central Freeway.
  25. 25. San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway.
  26. 26. New York City’s West Side Highway.
  27. 27. Milwaukee’s Park East Freeway.
  28. 28. Seoul, South Korea’s Cheonggycheon highway .
  29. 29. The Casey Overpass was built to “bust a bottleneck” – to relieve traffic congestion. Boston Globe, December 2, 1951. Did it work? Did Boston traffic get better after 1953?
  30. 30. The Casey Overpass was built to defend JP from Soviet nuclear attack. “This will be one of the most vital projects from the standpoint of civil defense, and also for the whole defense effort. In case of attack onBoston it would be an evacuation route.” – MDC Chair Edgar F. Copell
  31. 31. So, now it’s time to defend JP once again. I-95 Community Protest Mural.Memorial Drive at the Boston University Bridge.