Streets, Reconquered

This piece from <em>Worldchanging</em> looks at recent efforts by cities to "reconquer" streets by making them (temporarily, at least) pedestrianized and closed off to car traffic.
December 15, 2008, 8am PST | Nate Berg
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"For ten weeks this summer, a twelve-block stretch of Ste. Catherine Street in Montreal was transformed into a vibrant public square. It covered most of the main drag of the Ville-Marie neighbourhood – better known as Montreal's gay village – in the city's east end. The ersatz square hosted festivals and parades and accommodated the post-event revelries of jazz and comedy aficionados. Outdoor cafes spilled out onto the street's cracked concrete, and buskers and sculptures filled the curbside parking spaces. And the catalyst for all of it was a single, simple act: from the start of Montreal's festival season in June until Labour Day weekend, Ste. Catherine Street was closed entirely to motor vehicle traffic from Berri Street to Papineau Avenue."

"In any case, Ville-Marie had temporarily joined the ranks of a burgeoning global pedestrianization movement, one that imagines the liberation of the street from the supremacy of the automobile as the sustainable city's declaration of independence. The Danish architect Jan Gehl, perhaps the movement's most prominent proponent and most visionary strategist, refers to these places simply as 'reconquered' cities."

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Published on Wednesday, December 10, 2008 in WorldChanging
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