I’m linking another Parksify podcast. (I just discovered Parksify this weekend, and I’ve already linked an interview they did with Walkable City author Jeff Speck.)

This time, I’m linking an episode they did about NYC’s “Parks without Borders” program.

The idea, as NYC’s Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver explains it, is to make city parks more accessible by: widening City park entrances, taking down fences and barriers along the edges of parks, and connecting parks to adjacent public spaces.

It’s that last point, a vision of the whole city as one accessible pedestrian network, that I think has the most potential to transform cities.

Silver elaborates on this at the 11:25 mark:

40 percent of the city is within the public realm. The average citizen does not know whether they’re on Parks property or the Department of Transportation property, and they don’t care. They [just] want this seamless public realm.

Parks without borders is not just looking at parks. It’s looking at sidewalks. It’s looking at streets. We have this great program at the Department of Transportation, where we’re looking at how to connect parks and public plazas. The Department of Transportation is well known for converting all of Times Square into this great public space. And so we want to make sure that we work as a team—Parks, Department of Transportation, City Planning, Environmental Protection to really envision how we plan for our entire 40 percent of our city that’s in the public realm. We don’t have to just have to acquire new land, we just want to work together on how to program it a lot better. To me that is the heart of “Parks without Borders,” having a seamless public realm that the public can experience. You may sleep in your apartment or your home, but you live in the public space.

Silver’s plan to revamp public space so the whole city is congruous by foot is a practical blueprint for the dreamy pedestrian ideal of “Deep Walkability.”

The specific goal of the $50-million, 60-park “Parks without Borders” program is to put 85 percent of New Yorkers in walking proximity to a park by 2030.

*Footnote: I realize the two Parksify podcasts I’ve linked so far feature just male guests (and the host, Ash Blankenship—who sounds like the B-52s’ Fred Schneider circa 1978—is a guy too.) Urbanism is guilty as hell of being dominated by man-splainers, so I was glad to see that Parksify’s most recent podcast is an interview with a woman named Jillian Glover, who has an Urbanist blog called This City Life about Vancouver, B.C.; Glover is currently a communications advisor for the Canadian government and a past Vancouver City Planning Commissioner. 

One thought on “Underlining Like Mad #171: “Having a Seamless Public Realm”

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