PARK(ing) Day Comes to Charlestown

A public park will spring up on parking spaces at Bunker Hill Street this Friday afternoon, but residents must act quick, because like Cinderella, the park will be gone by nightfall.

On Friday, September 16, many parking spaces throughout Boston and across the world – including some spaces in Charlestown – will be transformed into creative public parks and greenspaces in celebration of Park(ing) Day. Park(ing) Day is an annual international event where artists, citizens, and designers come together to turn metered parking spaces into temporary public parks.

In Charlestown, the National Parks of Boston are working with Corcoran-SunCal development team led by Stantec Urban Places Group and Ground, Inc. landscape architects to design and install a temporary public park out of a parking space in front of the Bunker Hill Housing Development on Bunker Hill Street and Monument Street. Corcoran-SunCal is the designated developer for the mixed-income reconstruction proposal for the Bunker Hill Housing Development.

The Park(ing) space will have exhibits and activities to celebrate Charlestown’s past, present and future. This particular Park(ing) Day project will help creatively re-envision one area on Bunker Hill Street as well as raise awareness of the history of Charlestown while looking towards its future.

The first Park(ing) Day took place in San Francisco 11 years ago. The idea arose from a need to increase public parks and greenspaces in a particular area of the city. Organizers wanted to hold some kind of an event to raise local awareness and action. The original Park(ing) Day organizers, Rebar, decided to transform a single metering parking space into a public green space for a day.

The first annual event, held in 2005, has since spawned a global movement that continues to cause participants and passers-by to reflect on the presence of public parks in their communities and see their town in a new way.

The original “park” in San Francisco existed for just two hours – or, until the meter ran out. When this happened, organizers packed up the benches and shrubbery, rolled up the sod, and headed home. However, after just a few weeks, images of the event began circulating on the internet and a flood of requests came in asking Rebar to complete similar installations in towns across the country. Rebar made a decision to make Park(ing) Day a crowd-sourced event. They chose to empower and equip others looking to hold similar events designed to raise awareness for public spaces. They created a “how to” manual and other resources for new organizers to use when planning their own park(ing) day event.

While the original concept put forth a more traditional view of a public park with trees, grass, and benches, Park(ing) Day events continue to redefine the notion of public spaces. Some Park(ing) Day installations have taken the form of political seminars, urban farms, health clinics, bike repair shops, and more while all happening within the confines of a single parking space. The main goal of the event, regardless of the type of public space created, is to identify community needs, context, and local identity in order to create a public space that resonates with the community.

Join Park(ing) Day and celebrate Charlestown’s past, present and future at the corner of Bunker Hill and Monument Streets on Friday, September 16 from 2-6 p.m.

Learn more about Park(ing) Day and find out how you can lead your own Park(ing) Day event at www.parkingday.org.

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