Finding Public Space Wherever They Can in Cairo

Dense Cairo has few sanctioned public spaces. So residents make do wherever they can.
June 21, 2009, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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Bridges are a major gathering place for people, who come to hang around or gaze at the Nile. This piece looks at some of the "unofficial" parks in the city, and how people make whatever open areas they find into their own parks.

"This is the largest bridge across the Nile. It is loud, and it bounces under the weight of so many vehicles. But at night its sidewalks become festive. Families pull out plastic lawn chairs, sit along the guardrail and kick back. Vendors sell tea and corn on the cob, and some sell balloons, too.

Cairo is a city with a lot of people, a lot of tightly packed houses and buildings, a lot of traffic - and very little open space. There are some parks, but they tend to be fenced off and charge admission. So Egyptians grab what public space there is and make it their own. Bridges are a favorite, but nearly any open space will do. Even a patch of grass in the middle of a traffic circle."

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Published on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 in The New York Times
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