downtown los angeles, historic core

Good PR for Urbanism: Downtown LA Gets Two New “Parklets” in Historic Core

The new parklets downtown expand the realm of public space, taking over a metered parking spot and replacing it with more seating for example

The new parklets downtown expand the realm of public space, taking over a metered parking spot and replacing it with more seating for example

Yesterday, Downtown LA celebrated the grand opening of two new parklets along Spring Street in the Historic Core, which has become one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Downtown LA now active with pedestrians and bicyclists almost around the clock. In case you’re not quite sure what a “parklet” is, they’re basically mini parks extended from the sidewalk that replace usually one or two metered parking spots. The most amazing thing about these parklets — besides the fact that they actually do expand our public space — is that they represent a change in attitude about what Los Angeles should be. In Los Angeles a decade ago, if you were to propose getting rid of a parking spot for any reason whatsoever, the pitch forks and torches would be coming out in mob form. And in some backward places in LA, that’s still the case unfortunately (I’m looking at you West LA).

But Downtown LA is different — it’s big and it’s urban and definitely not suburban. People here walk and bike, and for those who live and work downtown, the use of the automobile wanes dramatically. In fact, some have gotten rid of their car completely like Historic Core resident Josh Gray-Emmer who told me recently that he sold his car and has saved thousands of dollars over the years now that he lives car-free. And that’s the kind of new Angeleno lifestyle and attitude adjustment that is fueling the momentum to take back the public space we handed over to the automobile. Instead of narrower sidewalks, we want wider sidewalks and more park space to boot.

The two new parklets on Spring Street — one in front of LA Cafe near 7th and another in front of Syrup Dessert near 6th — have added new landscaping and seating allowing Angelenos to congregate in a novel way. These visually compelling and intimately driven parks may be small, but they’re symbolic in a big way. They continue to build on the success we’ve had here in Downtown LA as we mature into an urban center that Angelenos desperately yearned for. And as I like to think of them, they’re great PR for urbanism.

Parklet near 6th & Spring

This parklet near 6th and Spring has replaced two metered parking spots

This parklet near 6th and Spring has replaced two metered parking spots

An angled view of the new parklet near 6th and Spring

An angled view of the new parklet near 6th and Spring

The new parklet becomes an immediate new compelling gathering spot along Spring Street

The new parklet becomes an immediate new compelling gathering spot along Spring Street

New landscaping and street furniture improve the aesthetics along Spring Street

New landscaping and street furniture improve the aesthetics along Spring Street

The new parklets widen the public realm along Spring Street

The new parklets widen the public realm along Spring Street

Parklet near 7th & Spring

Parklets increase public seating capacity as well for people to enjoy

Parklets increase public seating capacity as well for people to enjoy

Another view of the parklet and the seating available

Another view of the parklet and the seating available

The exercise equipment is a fun way to interact with the new parklet

The exercise equipment is a fun way to interact with the new parklet

Parklets may be small, but they build community

Parklets may be small, but they build community

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21 Comments

  1. Scott says

    I too have ditched my car. Live and work in DTLA and love it.

  2. oscar says

    I like the parklets and would like to see more of them. I’m just not a fan of the exercise equipment. It feels too out of place. It would make more sense in a larger space like the future park further north on Spring (b/w 4th and 5th streets).

  3. downtown resident says

    Just moved downtown last year. I love it and never once thought about buying a car. METRO all the way!

  4. Hollywood Resident says

    Hollywood resident here – cars are soooo over-rated. Using my TAP card and my bike, I own this city. =) Ok, so maybe I also have a zip car account – don’t judge.

  5. brudy says

    The parklets are nice, although I think the exercise bikes are a complete waste. I prefer the one by Syrup because of the bar and stools.

    • Are the parklets the preliminary step before becoming permanent?

  6. The parklets are a great idea! But it would be nice if they could clean the sidewalk daily too! Although Spring street is really cool, the smell is inbearable! It’s the only reason I cannot eat on that street :(

  7. David Klappholz says

    This sort of thing works in a number of spots in Manhattan, but they’re much larger than one or two parking spots in size. It’s surprising that the chairs and tables aren’t stolen there, but I don’t think they are, at least not in significant numbers. How about on Spring St. in the past few days? BTW, MIchael Bloomberg has to leave the NYC mayoralty at the end of this year; recruiting him to run in LA would be incredibly beneficial.

  8. raymond3000 says

    They should have one of these on every block of Spring, both sides between 2nd – 9th, then Bway, Fig, Hope & Main in the future

  9. David Klappholz says

    What’s wrong with Olive?…and Flower?…Grand?

    • raymond3000 says

      We don’t wanna over-saturate but I was just naming busy corridors throughout DT. Both sides of Spring from 2nd-9th (1 for each block), Bway, Main, Fig, Hope & Grand. Now E-W Sts: 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th and maybe Pico. The busiest areas would need them more: Financial District, Historic Core, South park & portions of the Arts District.

  10. Brandon says

    Parklets originated in San Francisco if I am not mistaken. They are wildly successful there and they are located in neighborhoods all over the city. I think there are about 50 now. I am glad to see the idea has made its way South along with me.

  11. David Klappholz says

    When did they start in SF? Also, are they 1-2 parking spaces in size there? New York’s, if you want to call them parklets, are considerably larger.

  12. Eleanor Burke says

    Love the idea of a tiny place to gather outdoors in the big city. Although smaller in size, the parklets remind me of the little plazas of Spanish towns where neighbors would get together daily to relax and chat. With our harried lives, we need a “time out” place to “smell the roses”!

  13. Wanee says

    I’m not at a point to sell my car yet, but this is great! Some day I will live without owning a car!!

  14. Colleen Whelan says

    Love the bikes! Way to take a load off while still keeping the heart rate up. Keeps one active while possibly waiting for a colleague to meet up. Relieves stress, while staying healthy. Love the space. Great design for many uses. Great use of a small space – makes it look bigger and roomie.

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