Reinventing Public Space

Many urban plazas and parks in U.S. cities, until recently in state of deterioration, are enjoying a resurgence. Yet, the new role of private investment in public spaces that is helping to accomplish this renewal is also raising questions.
July 17, 2004, 7am PDT | Deborah Myerson
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Urban public spaces were once considered the great common ground for a city's diverse inhabitants. Unfortunately, in the late 20th century, not only did urban parks, playgrounds, and plazas suffer—troubled by lack of investment, rising crime, and an evacuating middle class headed for the suburbs---but increasingly, were supplanted the privately controlled spaces of retail "town squares" and corporate courtyards. However, the more recent revitalization of cities around the U.S. is also reclaiming urban public space. Examples in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago demonstrate how lively civic space in the city can contribute to its renewal. Finally, private contributions have often become a critical cornerstone for funding the revitalization of parks and plazas--creating new opportunities, as well as challenges, for maintaining the integrity of public space.

Thanks to Deborah Myerson

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Published on Thursday, July 15, 2004 in Urban Land Magazine
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