Prague Plans Pedestrian Zones, Excludes Homeless

Prague is building on prosperity and tourism by creating new public-private spaces for shopping and entertainment. Detractors are concerned that they are destroying real public space, and are paired with greater control on unwanted users.
September 29, 2008, 12pm PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Change is afoot in Prague. Following the heady exuberance of the early 1990s, the sobering reassessments at the turn of the millennium and the consolidations of the first Václav Klaus presidency, the city is thrusting itself into a new transitional phase. Keen to position itself as a thriving metropolis, alert to contemporary challenges and opportunities, Prague can point to growing prosperity, a flirtation with hosting the Olympics, a proliferation of new shopping centers, major real estate development, a proactive approach to issues such as homelessness and 'anti-social behavior,' and plans for more pedestrian zones in the center.

While these seemingly disparate signifiers of success appear to reflect well on the approach of city government in providing a framework for business-led development, backed by urban planning and socially aware law enforcement, closer inspection reveals more. Common to all these trends is the destruction of 'common space' - the zones of interaction and social potential where access is not restricted to certain groups and outcomes are not predetermined. New 'public-private' hybrid spaces are replacing the commons, our behavior is ever more closely regulated and we run the risk of being infantilized into consumerist conformity."

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Published on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 in The Prague Post
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