Last Friday, the District and Arlington temporarily transformed pavement into parkland to celebrate Park(ing) Day, the annual event to raise awareness and generate discussion about how cities use public space. The pop-up parks showcased the value that green, public space has for communities, even in an area as small as a parking space.
The largest Park(ing) Day space was in front of the Wilson Building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, hosted by half of the District’s 12 councilmembers in their reserved parking spaces.
The 6 spaces created a long stretch of grass complete with picnic tables, a “reading room,” and curb space for bike parking. Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Muriel Bowser, Kenyan McDuffie, Tommy Wells, Michael A. Brown, and Chairman Phil Mendelson all donated their spaces.
The Pennsylvania Avenue parklet was the most active in town, with a stream of events throughout the day. The programming kicked off with yoga and a storytelling session for families with members of the DC Public Library. Later in the day, Common Good City Farm hosted a fruit pie demonstration. Between events, visitors had plenty of opportunities to sit back and enjoy the spacious grass and seating.
Casey Trees participated in Park(ing) Day for the second consecutive year, this time occupying three spaces at 12th and G Streets NW, near Metro Center.
”[Last year] at Dupont Circle, it was a little easier for people already to see an urban landscape, but down here there are almost no trees,” spokesman Christopher Horn told The Washington Post. “We’ve definitely had more people stop this year and ask, ‘what’s this?’”
Casey Trees brought shade trees from its farm in Berryville, Va., as well as a wide variety of plants, many of which were available for sale. Their park also featured picnic tables, a bean bag toss, and complimentary iced tea and lemonade, which visitors appreciated during the hottest part of the day.
In Rosslyn, Artisphere hosted two Park(ing) Day spaces, in conjunction with their Beyond the Parking Lot exhibit that is on display until November 4. The small park made the most of its size with a various plants, a small table, and chairs.
Artisphere’s space included the must-see attraction of the Park(ing) Day: a giant shopping cart that that was an oversized piece of art and a donation bin for the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN). A-SPAN encouraged passersby to drop gently used professional clothing into the cart to help with its homeless job placement programs.
Another parklet in Arlington, outside of Courthouse Metro station rounded out the Park(ing) Day festivities in the area. Visitors to this parklet were entertain in high style, with white tablecloths topping tables set in the repurposed parking spaces and surrounded by plants.
Even though Park(ing) Day is just one day each year, it’s a lasting reminder of the tradeoffs we make with our public space.