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What 'Tactical Urbanism' Can (and Can't) Do for Your City

It's not going to solve poverty, for instance. But that doesn't mean it's not worth doing.
This street piano in Montreal is yet another form of what's been dubbed "tactical urbanism."
This street piano in Montreal is yet another form of what's been dubbed "tactical urbanism."Sarah Nichols/Flickr

The phrase “tactical urbanism” came into use just a few short years ago, coined by a group of young planners and activists and popularized by an online guide to phenomena such as guerrilla wayfinding, pop-up markets, and DIY traffic-calming.

Many of those nimble urban-improvement techniques, which often originated in the activist community, have since gone mainstream. Cities such as San Francisco and Philadelphia, for instance, have been rapidly installing parklets where parking spaces used to go, a practice that originated with an annual grassroots action called Park(ing) Day.