Placemaking Lessons Learned from Seattle's Super Bowl Parade

Last Wednesday, an estimated 700,000—more than the city's population of 635,000—welcomed the Seahawks home, without major incident. Writing in The Atlantic Cities, Chuck Wolfe describes five lessons for placemaking through words and photographs.
Jeff / Flickr

Wolfe provides an eyewitness summary of an event that brought an estimated 700,000 to downtown Seattle—more than the city's population of 635,000—without major incident. 

His thesis:  

Efforts to create great urban places have a lot to learn from unifying regional events that cut across silos of culture, age, income, or neighborhood. Such events need not be limited to rebuilding after a superstorm or earthquake—they can be as simple and spontaneous as one city's celebration of its first-ever Super Bowl championship.

In support of this claim, he illustrates five lessons learned for adaptation to more customary forms of planning and placemaking, that echo his prior writing on "urbanism without effort":
  1. Spontaneous, authentic "placemaking" with a purpose is often best. 
  2. A robust, multimodal transportation network is key. 
  3. A varied crowd of all ages makes a difference and can enhance a downtown core experience.
  4. One-time events can help crystallize potential alternative uses of urban spaces.
  5. We are more convertible than we think, and can avoid the politics and process that often inhibits great ideas.

He concludes with the optimism that ruled the day as a catalyst for urbanism going forward:

A center-city environment shared its spaces in the optimal fashion often sought by urban businesses, politicians, and residents, all without any of the usual endless debate and delay. For a day, I saw almost everyone happy, excited and with a common focus. Even if it was about professional football, that's really what good "urbanism" means.

Full Story: 5 'Placemaking' Lessons From Seattle's Amazing Super Bowl Parade

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