Skip to content
CityLab
Design

Why Some Parklets Work Better Than Others

A detailed new report out of Philadelphia finds the type of businesses closest to a parklet play a key role in their success.
relates to Why Some Parklets Work Better Than Others
Ben Tran/University City District

The concept of the Parklet—the conversion of a couple of curbside parking spots or other underused public space into a tiny park, complete with greenery and seating—got its start in San Francisco about 10 years ago. Since then, the idea has decidedly spread, in part through temporary “Park(ing) Day” events, but also through more permanent efforts that have sprung up across the country, everywhere from Seattle to New York, Los Angeles to Minneapolis, even suburban New Jersey.

These urban innovations are not without their detractors or problems. One parklet, in San Francisco’s Castro District, has proven to be a center of controversy thanks to nuisance activities (booze) and a small handful of unusual users (nudists). Another, in Boston, was eliminated because of a disagreement between two neighboring business owners: one liked the parklet, the other wanted the parking places given back to cars. But these are the outliers. In general, parklets have been well-received in communities all over the U.S.